New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is taking time away from his official duties to forcefully appeal to his supporters in labor unions and on the Democratic Party's left wing to mobilize in support of state Senate candidates, which he sees as key to achieving his policy goals, reports The New York Times
At a recent meeting, which was billed as a "political briefing," Democratic donors gathered at the law offices of Kramer Levin to hear de Blasio and an aide update them on the progress his administration has made in its first year on pre-K education, about the details of his housing plan, and his other policy priorities, which include immigration reform and hiking the minimum wage.
The New York Senate currently is in the hands of Republicans, but their majority is in jeopardy after the Working Families Party, which had left the Democratic coalition earlier this year, said they would reunite after the elections in November, reports The Times.
Political analysts believe the outcome could come down to as few as half a dozen of the 63 districts.
Incumbent Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo remains under an ethical cloud and with his re-election almost certain, de Blasio has been aggressively courting his traditional supporters in labor unions and on the left wing of the Democratic Party, including those in the room to hear his briefing.
One individual who attended the meeting said he stressed that control of the state Senate was key to pushing through much of his agenda, reports The Capital
One source told the paper that de Blasio "talked about the importance of a Democratic state Senate to making the progressive change we need" and another said he "went through a list of big-ticket agenda items and said look, I can't do anything without the Democratic majority and real unity in the State Senate."
Fundraising will be extremely important in this election cycle. In previous years, Republicans had a money advantage because former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg personally donated millions of dollars to elect Republicans to the Senate, thus creating a substantial fundraising gap.
“This will be the first race for the State Senate in a very long time where there is actual functional parity between what will be spent on behalf of Republican candidates and Democratic candidates,” said Bruce N. Gyory, a political consultant, told The Times.
Republicans are well aware of the mayor's efforts to take control of the Senate from the GOP and are seizing on his involvement – and his liberal agenda – to appeal to their donor base.
In August, state Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos sent an open letter sent to warning of the consequences of a New York City-dominated state government, according to Crain's Business Journal
"Remember this: All of the progress we’ve made can be undone in an instant if Senate Democrats, the radical Working Families Party, and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio take control of the State Senate next year," Skelos wrote. "Allowing a small, radical faction of avowed leftists to run New York’s entire state government would have disastrous consequences."
Skelos and his 29-member Republican conference will need to gain several seats in order to retain control of the Senate, said Crain's.
Party Republicans also have linked de Blasio and state Senate candidates to appeal to donors.
Earlier this summer, New York Senate Republicans fired off blistering fundraising emails that were heavily critical of the mayor, and asserted he and his allies wanted to "seize control of the entire state," reported the New York Daily News
"Far left New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, dysfunctional SENATE DEMOCRATS and their radical Working Families Party — that is under investigation for corruption — ARE TRYING TO SEIZE CONTROL OF THE ENTIRE STATE," the email from the state Senate Republican Campaign Committee said.
It went on to say that "these radical extremists are pushing for heavy taxation and destructive anti-growth policies."
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