Republican D'Amato Ignores GOP, Endorses NY Gov. Cuomo

Wednesday, 15 Jan 2014 05:17 PM

By Cathy Burke

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Former Republican senator-turned-lobbyist Al D'Amato is endorsing Gov. Andrew Cuomo for re-election, breaking ranks with the GOP and ignoring a plea from its state party chairman, the New York Post reported Wednesday.

D'Amato praised Cuomo's fiscal and business-friendly policies while in office.

"I don't agree with everything he's done," he said of Cuomo. "But he's kept taxes down.
He's controlled spending. He put in a property tax cap that's very important, particularly for senior citizens. He's reached out to bring businesses back to the state, particularly upstate."

D’Amato said he also liked the targeted tax-free zones Cuomo created to attract high-tech businesses to New York.

Not that he's a fan of every Cuomo decision: D'Amato faulted Cuomo for not allowing hydrofracking to extract natural gas in an economically depressed upstate region in dire need of a turnaround, the Post noted.

"But I think of my old friend Ed Koch's rule," D'Amato said, referring to the late Democratic mayor, quoting him as saying: "You agree on eight out of 10 issues, that's good. If you agree on all 10, go see a psychiatrist."

The support came just a day after state Republican Party Chairman Ed Cox painted a starkly different portrait of the Cuomo administration, urging party stalwarts not to break ranks.

"After seven years and three Democratic governors, New York remains the most taxed, most regulated, least economically free state in America, with the highest out-migration and the most debt per capita, just as we were when Andrew Cuomo took office," he said in a letter Tuesday to Republican leaders and activists, and reported by the Post.

D'Amato's influence in New York political circles in considerable, having helped Republican George Pataki get elected governor in the 1990s, when he toppled Cuomo’s father, three-term Gov. Mario Cuomo.

"Ed is the state chairman; I certainly respect the job he has to do," D'Amato told the Post. "But I think Gov. Cuomo has done a good job. It’s a Democratic state. It's very difficult for a Republican to defeat Cuomo."

D'Amato has some company among big names – and big money -- supporting Cuomo, including Home Depot founder Ken Langone, who's doled out $50,000 to the governor's re-election campaign, real estate developer Peter Kalikow, who contributed $25,000, and supermarket honcho and former Republican mayoral candidate John Catsimatidis, the Post reported.

Cuomo has about $30 million in his war chest — and is polling well with voters.

There's no announced Republican challenger to Cuomo, but real estate baron and "Apprentice" creator Donald Trump is considering a run, as is Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino.

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