Duffy: Time To Rally Around Cuomo

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Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy joined Gov. Andrew Cuomo this morning as they started their first day of work at the state Capitol.

Yesterday, as he prepared to take the oath of office, Duffy said the message today will be to alert New York about the state’s fiscal troubles but also to use the crisis as an opportunity to improve state government. He said New Yorkers need to come together and support Cuomo’s message of reform.

“When you look at the comments that will be made, if I could capture one message it will be this: New York state is in the midst of a crisis and we have a new governor that will provide us with the type of leadership and direction and vision that can transform New York state,” Duffy told Gannett’s Albany Bureau yesterday.

“This may not be in my speech, but one message I would like to reinforce,” Duffy continued. “I would hope that everyone across the state, Democrats and Republicans, would see that it is time to pull together, to join our governor, to get behind him and support him, to support the tough decisions and the direction that needs to be taken to pull New York state out of the crisis that we are in.”

He added that, “It’s time to get together and support this governor and support him in words and in actions. If we do that, if we put aside all the political competitions and the divisiveness that permeates our state and this country on the political landscape, we can accomplish things.”

Duffy said last week that he wouldn’t have seen his new office on the second floor of the Capitol until today.

Duffy had dinner last night with his family in Albany, calling it a “mini Duffy family reunion.” In town are his wife, Barbara; two daughters, Erin and Shannon; his father, Neil; and two brothers, Gerry and Neil; along with some other relatives. Some close friends are expected to attend today’s inauguration as well.

His wife, Barbara, was at his side when he was sworn into office last night. Barbara Duffy spoke recently to WHAM TV in Rochester about her husband’s unexpected political climb, from Rochester police chief, to mayor, to now second-in-command in New York.

Duffy was initially leery of entering politics when he was first approached by close friends about running for mayor in 2005, when then-Mayor Bill Johnson was not expected to run for a fourth term.

But they conducted a poll that showed Duffy was an enormously popular police chief and ultimately lured him into running. Once a registered Republican, Duffy won a contentious Democratic three-way primary against then-City Council member Wade Norwood, a prominent black leader and protege of Assemblyman David Gantt, D-Rochester, and fellow City Council member Tim Mains, the first openly gay elected official in New York.

Duffy went onto to easily win the general election against Republican John Parrinello, a prominent attorney, and then ran unopposed for re-election in 2009 in the heavily Democratic city.

When rumors swirled earlier this year about Duffy joining forces with Cuomo, many people close to him doubted that he would take the job, citing his love of his native Rochester and his recent re-election to a second term.

But Duffy likes to talk about Cuomo’s persuasive and how Cuomo convinced him he could do more for Rochester from Albany than at City Hall.

“The largest growing fraternity in New York state are those of us who cannot say no to Andrew Cuomo when he asked us to join him,” Duffy said yesterday.

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