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Battle over State Senate

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Albany/HV: Battle over State Senate
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Governor Andrew Cuomo talked about the upcoming battle for control over the State Senate Tuesday. Our Nick Reisman has more.

NEW YORK STATE -- As governor, Andrew Cuomo is the defacto leader of the Democratic Party in New York. But when it comes to one of the few levers of power his party doesn't control, the State Senate, the governor remains unenthusiastic about Republicans losing the majority.

At a news conference Tuesday, Cuomo didn't rule out endorsing individual Republicans this year.

“I could see myself endorsing any individual regardless of party label depending on the positions, depending on the individual. I've worked with Republicans, I've worked with Democrats, I've worked with Independents,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo told reporters he would make endorsements of candidates on a case-by-case basis.

Cuomo said, “Those decisions, though, won't be blanket decisions. They won't be I support every Democrat, I support every Republican, I support every Independent.”

For a candidate in a close race, an endorsement from a governor with a 70 percent approval is no small thing. And his backing may help GOP lawmakers who crossed party lines last year to approve same-sex marriage. Buffalo Senator Mark Grisanti, a pro-gay marriage Republican, is facing an especially tough battle this fall.

“I think I'm like most New Yorkers. I'm a Democrat, I support Democrats, but you make a decision on the person, ultimately,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo has worked well with Senate Republicans over the last 18 months. But his hesitance to endorse may stem from the party's two dysfunctional and chaotic years in charge of the chamber. Of course, back in 2008 at the Democratic National Convention, then-Attorney General Cuomo was all about the party taking control of the chamber.

“First to Malcolm Smith, the next leader of the state Senate, the only question is by how many seats,” Cuomo said in 2008.

The Senate is divided 33 to 29, not counting the four Democrats who conference separately and are sometimes allied with the GOP. A Democratic spokesman in a statement pointed to the host of bills the minority conference and Cuomo both back, including a minimum wage hike and campaign finance reform that Republicans have so far blocked.

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