Cuomo and NY state Democrats upping pressure on renegade Dems to support Pelosi for speaker
ALBANY — Gov. Cuomo and he state Democratic party he controls are mounting a full court press to get Long Island Rep. Kathleen Rice and other reluctant Dems to back Nancy Pelosi for House speaker.
Cuomo during a Monday radio interview called on Rice and other Democrats who are not supporting Pelosi to do so for the sake of the party.
The state Democratic party also unveiled a new web ad in Rice’s district designed to up the pressure on her to back Pelosi.
And state party Vice Chairman Christine Quinn sent a letter to Democrats in Rice’s district urging her constituents to weigh in on the matter.
Though the House Democratic caucus overwhelmingly supported Pelosi for speaker last week, 32 Dems, including Rice, refused to back her. That leaves the California Democrat short of the necessary votes to become speaker unless she gets Republican help.
Saying there is currently no Democratic alternative, Cuomo, during a Monday morning appearance on WNYC public radio’s “The Brian Lehrer Show”, said anti-Pelosi forces made their case and lost and should now do what’s best overall for the party or face emboldening the Republicans.
“I’m saying to all the Democrats who are playing intramural and personal politics, this is not about you,” Cuomo said. “This is about electing a Democratic Congress, which Democrats all across the nation worked very hard to do to stop bad things from happening from this President.
“And if they mess up the speaker vote, they could really blow it and that would really be a national tragedy.”
Rice seemed unconvinced on Monday.
“The party establishment is circling the wagons for one of two reasons: either they didn’t hear voters’ call for a generational change in leadership, or they’re simply choosing to ignore it. Rep. Rice promised to be a strong, independent voice for NY-04 and she’s not going to let politicians in New York City or Albany dictate how she should represent her district,” the congresswoman’s spokesman Michael Aciman said.
Cuomo, who has had a longtime close relationship with Pelosi, said he is getting involved not because he’s considering a national run himself, but because “Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic House) are vital to the state of New York” in counteracting the Republican national agenda.
He said Pelosi has shown leadership and successfully picked up the needed seats for the Democrats to take control of the House come January.
Unless Dems like Rice back Pelosi, Cuomo said, the alternatives would be a weakened speaker, one that was brokered in a deal with the Republicans, or someone who might be incompetent.
“The Democratic Congress… is our only check on this President and the extreme conservative movement that has taken over the federal government,” Cuomo said. “If they get their way, they will destroy New York and our rights and our values.”
A Rice spokesman had no immediate comment.
The state Democratic party ad released in Rice’s Nassau County district singles out Rice for being one of a handful of Democrat holdouts “standing in the way and empowering Republicans.
“We fought too hard to give up now and let Republicans win,” the ad says. “Tell Rice you support Pelosi for Speaker.”
Quinn’s letter struck the same theme that internal Democratic caucus politics should not play into the hands of the Republicans.
“Democratic voters who elected Democrats to Congress expect them to act like Democrats,” Quinn wrote. “I hope you join me in calling on (Rice) to do just that. We have worked too hard to elect a progressive majority and finally put a check on Donald Trump to allow a handful of renegades to threaten our momentum.”
Jay Jacobs, Rice’s hometown Nassau County Democratic chairman, told the Daily News he has spoken personally to her about supporting Pelosi.
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