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The Perfidy of Andrew Cuomo, An Ongoing Series

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A Democrat like Andrew Cuomo is better than a Republican because he’s at least susceptible to pressure from the left on high-profile issues. But a Democrat like Andrew Cuomo is worse than an actual liberal because on lower-profile issues he’ll remain a conservative:

The New York Civil Liberties Union today condemned Governor Cuomo’s late-night, New Year’s Eve veto of bipartisan legislation that would have overhauled New York state’s failing public defense system. The legislation would have established statewide standards for effective counsel and shifted financial responsibility for public defense services from counties to the state – reforms based on the results of a settlement in the NYCLU’s lawsuit, Hurrell-Harring v. New York. The new standards would have included limits on public defense attorneys’ caseloads, the presence of counsel at a criminal defendant’s first court appearance and access to the resources necessary to provide adequate representation.

“We are deeply disappointed that the governor has vetoed the most important criminal justice reform legislation in memory,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “He has rejected a groundbreaking and bipartisan fix to our deeply flawed public defense system and left in place the status quo, in which the state violates the rights of New Yorkers every day and delivers unequal justice.”

The obvious question here is whether Cuomo can be subject to a primary challenge. Teachout maybe, although I’m not sure she can put together a majority coalition and the loss in the House race doesn’t help. A tweep suggested Paul Tonko — no idea if he’d be interested but he’d be great and could do a lot more as governor than as a minority party House backbencher, and NY-20 is safely Democratic. There really needs to be a serious challenge (note: threatening to withdraw Working Families support is not any kind of serious threat to Cuomo.)

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