Gov. Cuomo, in his first major battle with Bill de Blasio, is engaged in a last-ditch effort to block leftist Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito from becoming council speaker, Democratic insiders have told The Post.
Cuomo has been working behind the scenes with city Democratic leaders, including Assemblyman Carl Heastie, the Bronx party chair, and US Rep. Joseph Crowley, the Queens chair, to line up support for Councilman Dan Garodnick, the other candidate in the race, the insiders said.
“It’s clear to many of us that Cuomo and his people are working to stop Melissa because it’s not in his interest to have her in there,” said a prominent Democrat involved in the speakership battle.
“It’s certainly not in Cuomo’s political interest to have another left-wing activist along with de Blasio running the city. The sense is that Cuomo wants to see de Blasio defeated on this one, so that he’ll start off as mayor weaker and not stronger, relative to the governor.”
Added a longtime political observer close to the speakership fight, “The governor, who wants to run for president, doesn’t want to see the city turned into a People’s Republic of New York at the same time he’s trying to make the state at least look like it’s business friendly.”
Fred Dicker goes on to write that Cuomo is worried that liberal Dems are going to take him on in 2014, forcing him to the left at a time when he wants to be tracking to the center for his 2014 re-election and potential 2016 White House run.
UPDATED - 9:45 AM. Politicker reports Cuomo, through a spokesperson, vehemently denied the Dicker column alleging Cuomo's meddling in the speaker's race:
Andrew Cuomo’s team is fully denying a New York Post report today alleging the governor is quietly working to thwart Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio by backing a rival candidate in the race for City Council speaker.
Mr. Dicker, citing unnamed “Democratic insiders,” said Mr. Cuomo was engaged in a “last-ditch effort” to block Melissa Mark-Viverito, a de Blasio ally, from attaining the post, because she is too liberal to fit into Mr. Cuomo’s more moderate agenda.
But Cuomo spokeswoman Melissa DeRosa flatly rejected the report. “You can quote me on this – Completely false and ridiculous, even for Fred Dicker,” she wrote in an email.
That means it's true.