Gov. Andrew Cuomo is entering the New York Senate race.
No, he is not leaving his post as the head of the state. But with more than $9 million cash on hand — far more than the $210,000 of his Republican challenger, Mike Molinaro — Cuomo has started throwing his excess money into the state Senate races.
Cuomo announced last week that he will kick off a $2 million TV and digital ad campaign for state Senate candidates through the state Democratic Committee. The first ad is in support of two Long Island Democrats: James Gaughran and Town of North Hempstead Councilwoman Anna Kaplan, who is challenging Elaine Phillips (R-Flower Hill).
The ad warns that Republicans want to roll back gun safety laws, keep the cap on state and local tax deductions and take away a woman’s right to choose abortion.
“Governor Cuomo needs Democrats like Jim Gaughran and Anna Kaplan in the State Senate, because the choice is clear,” the ad says. “For Long Islanders, it’s not red or blue, it’s right and wrong.”
According to a report in the New York Daily News, some Senate Democrats had complained that the governor and the Democratic Committee he controls had spent almost nothing on the campaigns. But a source in the Cuomo administration said the Kaplan/Gaughran ad was just the beginning, and that the governor would play a bigger role in key races throughout the final three weeks of the campaigns.
Currently, the state Senate has 31 Republicans and 32 Democrats, with one Democrat caucusing with Republicans, giving them control. Republicans have controlled the state Senate since 2014; should the Democrats take the majority this election, they would control the state Assembly, state Senate and the governorship.
Reach reporter Luke Torrance by email at email@example.com, by phone at 516-307-1045, ext. 214, or follow him on Twitter @LukeATorrance.