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Question awaits Cuomo in Buffalo: Will he endorse in Small-Jacobs race?

ALBANY –  Gov. Andrew Cuomo arrives in Buffalo Wednesday morning to make an announcement at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, presumably something positive at the medical and research institution.

But politicians wonder if he will make any other announcement. Specifically, will Cuomo endorse a candidate in the 60th Senate District?

Cuomo backed three Democratic state candidates on Long Island earlier this week, but the governor  was not committing yet to back Democrat Amber Small in her bid against Republican Chris Jacobs for the seat on Western New York.

For the governor, an endorsement in Small vs. Jacobs race is not so straight-forward a decision.

Jacobs, the Erie County clerk, may be a Republican but he comes from the Jacobs family of Buffalo’s Delaware North.  Family members have been major donors to Cuomo over the years, and Jeremy Jacobs hosted a fundraiser for Cuomo in 2014 at his East Aurora estate.

But Democrats have criticized the governor in the past for not energetically  helping Democrats re-take control of the state Senate. That appears to have changed this year. In early October, speaking of Cuomo’s plans to help Democrats raise money, Sen. Michael Gianaris, the head of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, told The Buffalo News that “there’s nothing we’ve asked from him that he’s not agreed to do at this point.’’

Cuomo appeared at an endorsement event Monday  with two Democrats -- and endorsed another Democrat later in the evening at a fundraiser in Suffolk County. Those three key Senate contests are on Long Island.

On Tuesday, the governor was not saying what he is going to do in the Senate 60th district contest.
The governor’s office referred a call about the matter to the head of the state Democratic Party.

“At Governor Cuomo’s direction, the state party will be undertaking a robust coordinated campaign to elected Democrats up and down the ballot, particularly in hotly contested state Senate and congressional districts. More endorsements will be made in the coming weeks,’’ said Basil Smikle Jr., executive director of the party, in response to whether Cuomo is endorsing Small.

And at a Senate Democratic fundraiser in New York City Tuesday night, Cuomo said the “probable scenario” is that the Republicans will not have enough members to control the Senate after Election Day.

But, he warned that Senate Democrats have to be “smart enough and flexible enough” to form a partnership with the Independent Democratic Conference, a group of five senators – likely to grow to six in January – led by Bronx Sen. Jeff Klein.

“Otherwise, they will go with the Republicans,’’ Cuomo told the gathering.

Cuomo said he supports a Democratic takeover of the Senate, in part, because the Republicans have been unwilling to go along with changes to campaign finance laws, ethics law changes such as limits on outside incomes of legislators and passage of a measure giving access to state-funded college financial aid for the children of illegal immigrants.

Still, Cuomo said, he has gotten along well with Republicans in the six years he has been governor.

“I don’t believe all Republicans are bad and all Democrats are good,’’ Cuomo said.


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