Can Sandy Bridge Cross-Border Political Divides
ICYMI: Here’s today’s CapTon morning memo, which focuses on the unusual, and probably short-term, alliance between three governors – Andrew Cuomo, Chris Christie and (to a somewhat lesser extent) Dannel Malloy – forced by Superstorm Sandy. This piece by The Daily Beast’s David Freedlander is in a somewhat similar vein, though he focuses on the Cuomo-Christie relationship, which is particularly interesting because of the 2016 angle.
In the memo, which you should really sign up for on our SoP home page if you haven’t already, I wrote:
We already know about the terrible power of Hurricane Sandy when it comes to economic and physical damage. But is it possible the storm also has the power to mend – at least temporarily – long-standing political rifts between the governors of the tri-state area?
There are reports this morning that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (Democrat), New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (Republican) and Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy (Democrat) “are joining forces in a regional effort to land nearly $83 billion in federal aid to recover from Superstorm Sandy.”
Even though it seems logical for the governors to team up – the whole strength in numbers thing, particularly when it comes to wooing a reluctant Congress for additional cash – it took this trio a while to get together.
Cuomo was the first to put a price tag on Sandy damage, pegging the total at $30 billion – a number he has since revised upwards. That figure was leaked to the New York Times three days before President Obama was scheduled to make his first trip to New York to tour areas damaged by Sandy.
During that visit, the president reportedly advised the governor and Mayor Bloomberg to incorporate as many states as possible into their disaster aid ask in order to maximize their chances of getting Congress to say “yes.”
Easier said than done, since doing so requires the setting aside of egos and long-simmering political rivalries.
Both Christie and Cuomo are seen as potential White House contenders in 2016. But the two nevertheless seem to have a good working relationship that pre-dates Sandy. (Remember: They have, among other things, the Port Authority in common).
There’s a veritable love fest between Christie and Obama ever since the president’s pre-Election Day visit to the Sandy-ravaged Garden State shore – a move that infuriated Republicans, who believe the New Jersey governor, an outspoken surrogate for Mitt Romney before the storm, was in part to blame for Romney’s loss to Obama on Nov. 6.
An anonymous senior Obama administration official even leaked to the New York Post that the Christie people had been “so much easier to deal with” than Team Cuomo after Sandy.
But that hasn’t stopped Christie and Cuomo from collaborating. They issued a joint statement this past Wednesday, pledging a “shared commitment” to receive federal aid in order to rebuild after Sandy.
Cooperation between Malloy, Cuomo and Christie is perhaps more difficult to navigate.
Christie and Malloy have clashed repeatedly – and quite publicly – over both personality and policy, particularly when it comes to negotiating with public employee unions, pension reform and budgeting.
Malloy started the tiff, publicly calling Christie “bombastic for the sake of being bombastic.” But Christie, being Christie, gave back as good as he got.
Malloy was also critical last year of the budgeting approach taken by his New York counterpart, slamming Cuomo’s celebrated tax cap and at one point even calling it “disastrous” during a WNYC-FM interview.
As a result, Malloy was reportedly the recipient of an expletive-filled phone call from Cuomo’s former chief of staff, Steve Cohen, who allegedly was none too pleased with Malloy’s criticism of his boss, and delivered the now-infamous line: “We operate on two speeds here: Get along, and kill.”
This past March, however, Malloy offered a olive branch of sorts while speaking at an ABNY breakfast in Manhattan, saying that while he, Cuomo and Christie don’t talk a heck of a lot, or even work together across state lines, “nobody is more willing and anxious to work on a regional basis than I am, particularly in areas where we have some intrinsic strength.”
Yesterday, we received the following joint statement from Malloy and Cuomo, issued by Cuomo’s press office:
“New York and Connecticut are tied together economically, culturally and historically. When one of us suffers from a tragic event like Storm Sandy, we all suffer.”
“Therefore, we have a responsibility as a region to push for federal investment, so that we can both get residents’ lives back to normal as quickly as possible following this storm and make the necessary investments in our infrastructure that will mitigate damage in future events.”
“We can’t plan for every eventuality, but we can make investments that are clearly necessary. Together, we represent roughly 23 million people. But our region is in many ways the driving force of this nation. We look forward to working with our partners in Washington on this critically important issue.”
It was only a two-way statement, and did not include Christie. (Remember: Cuomo and Christie issued a joint statement of their own earlier this week).
But it was a start.
And for the sake of residents in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey who were hit hard by Sandy and are counting on their respective governors bringing home a sizable share of federal disaster aid, let’s all hope this newfound spirit of cooperation triumphs over petty politics – at least in the short term.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Liz Benjamin on November 30, 2012 at 12:18 pm, and is filed under 2016, Andrew Cuomo, Chris Christie, Democrats, Hurricane Sandy, Republicans. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|
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