In a sign of the split sentiment of Democrats over some of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s policies, state Democrats at a fall meeting today tabled two controversial resolutions that would have put the party at odds with their popular standard-bearer.
Some Democratic committee leaders has drafted resolutions that would supported a ban on hydraulic fracturing for natural gas and backed the continuance of higher income taxes on the wealthy.
The Cuomo administration is pursuing regulations that would permit the controversial natural-gas-drilling practice under tight oversight, and Cuomo has vowed to let higher income taxes on those earning more than $200,000 expire at year’s end as planned.
Debra Cooper, a state Democratic committeewoman from Manhattan, questioned the “social justice” of letting the tax expire while the gap grows between the rich and poor. But she ultimately called for her resolution to be tabled, claiming the committee members didn’t have enough time to read it. Others said they had a similar resolution that they reviewed, calling on Cooper from the audience to let the vote go forward.
“I think we as Democrats think that there should be a fair playing field for everyone, but I think that in terms of this resolution – given that it did not get into your packets and that you have not all seen it – that the time is not right at this moment to bring it to a vote,” Cooper said.
Rachel Lavine, a state committeewoman from Manhattan, sought to introduce a resolution that said the party opposed hydrofracking. But the committee voted, over the objections of some, to table that vote as well.
The move angered some Democrats, who stormed out of the meeting quickly after it ended. Lori Gardner, a Tompkins County state committeewoman, said the party should have let a vote take place on the hydrofracking resolution.
“I support a ban on hydrofracking. It’s very dangerous, they didn’t want to discuss it,” Gardner said. “They didn’t want a vote on it so they voted to table it.
She added, “They should have allowed us to count the votes and they didn’t. That’s undemocratic.”
Charlie King, the party’s executive director and a close Cuomo ally, said the voting was handled properly.
“I think the process worked the way it was supposed to work. There was a motion to table. The motion carried,” he said.
But clearly there was consternation about voting on resolutions that could put the party at odds with Cuomo, the popular first-term governor.
State Democratic Committee chairman Jay Jacobs said before the vote: “We have to just be very careful to remember that we shouldn’t step out too far and be in essence representing our own personal opinions when we got elected officials that we worked very hard to elect.”
Here’s Gardner, the Sullivan County Democratic chairman and others talking to reporters after the Democratic committee meeting.