The first was between Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio:
Bitter rivals Mayor de Blasio and Gov. Cuomo broke bread during a secret sit-down at a Midtown restaurant in an attempt to mend their fractured relationship, The Post has learned.
Hizzoner and Cuomo held the peace summit Tuesday evening in a curtained-off private room in the back of Casa Lever on Park Avenue at East 53rd Street, sources said.
“It looked like a serious business meeting,” a restaurant staffer told The Post, saying there were no outward signs of acrimony but no laughs either during the tête-à-tête.
“Governor Cuomo has a nice setup near the back of the restaurant. He’s sort of hidden away so he can have his privacy with his guests. You can always tell he’s here because his ‘secret service’ guys are crawling all over the place,” one restaurant staffer said.
Cuomo and de Blasio were accompanied by Emma Wolfe, the mayor’s legislative director, who handles Albany matters, and Melissa DeRosa, the governor’s director of communications.
In the second tier came a meeting between wanna-be mayor Scott Stringer and real estate developer (and maybe wanna-be mayor) Don Peebles:
Real estate developer Don Peebles and city Comptroller Scott Stringer had a power breakfast at the Regency on Monday, which piqued the interest of fellow diner the Rev. Al Sharpton at a nearby table.
When he spotted the pair, who are both considered potential challengers to Mayor de Blasio in his re-election bid, “Sharpton walked over to their table to say hello, and joked that some might view their ‘secret meeting’ as a plot to take down de Blasio,” a spy said.
Peebles, who’s reportedly worth $700 million, told The Post in August he’s giving serious thought to a run, saying, “I was a political supporter of [de Blasio] . . . I’ve lost confidence in him. It would be irresponsible of me to do nothing.”
Peebles doesn't actually spend much time in NYC and might have trouble meeting the residency requirements, so I wouldn't spend too much time worrying about him as a potential challenger if I were Bill de Blasio.
And Stringer, well, he isn't particularly good at the job he has now, so he's not exactly a serious threat to a sitting Democratic mayor either (especially since a successful opponent to de Blasio is going to have eat away at de Blasio's support with the black community and Stringer's political base is Upper West Side white people.)
But it has been rumored that Cuomo has been actively recruiting potential challengers to de Blasio for 2017 and that his "Number #1 priority" is "being anti-Bill de Blasio," so the Cuomo-De Blasio dinner is an interesting gossip tidbit.
It was reported that Cuomo won't mend fences with de Blasio until the mayor publicly apologizes for de Blasio's criticism of Cuomo back in late June/early July, and the feud between the two continued last week when Cuomo accused de Blasio of being incapable of solving the homelessness problem in the city and criticized him for working with Republican Rob Astorino on transit issues, so I dunno what the point of this was or if anything was accomplished at the dinner between the two.
But I think I may have one possibility.
Fred Dicker reported on Monday that some Democrats were criticizing Cuomo for his constant "belittling" of de Blasio, something that was undercutting Cuomo's attempts to get a challenger to run against de Blasio.
The challenger who might have the best shot to beat de Blasio in a primary, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, was said to be having second thoughts about running because of the damage the Cuomo-de Blasio feud would do to his chances:
U S REP. Hakeem Jeffries, Gov. Cuomo’s choice to oust Mayor de Blasio, is having doubts about entering the race, as Democratic unhappiness over Cuomo’s “belittling’’ of the mayor grows, senior Democrats have told The Post.
Jeffries, whom Cuomo has encouraged directly and through intermediaries to challenge de Blasio in the 2017 primary, “is having second thoughts about running, and has begun resisting Cuomo,’’ a prominent Democratic activist with strong party ties told The Post.
The source said it was now likely Jeffries would not challenge de Blasio, despite Cuomo’s repeated entreaties and polls showing the mayor’s popularity continuing to fall.
A second highly knowledgeable source, calling the Brooklyn-based Jeffries “a very pragmatic guy,’’ said that the well-regarded two-term congressman “has got to be aware that Cuomo can’t necessarily deliver for him in the Democratic primary, especially with what’s been going on.’’
That was a reference to Cuomo’s new attacks last week on de Blasio. The governor said he, and not the mayor, knows best how to handle the city’s homeless problem, and faulted Blasio for appearing at a press conference with Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, last year’s Republican candidate for governor.
“It’s reached a point where having Cuomo backing you in a Democratic primary could work the other way, and Jeffries must be aware of that,’’ said the second source.
“Just look at what happened with the governor in his own primary with Zephyr Teachout,’’ he continued, referring to Cuomo’s surprisingly weak showing last year, when only mustered only about 60 percent of the primary vote against Teachout, a little-known law professor, and comedian/activist Randy Credico.
Several prominent Democrats said they were “shocked’’ — a word that was repeatedly used — at Cuomo’s criticism of de Blasio for appearing in public with Astorino. The governor cited Astorino’s opposition to abortion, among other things. But that didn’t stop Cuomo from standing with Pope Francis in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in September, despite the pontiff obviously being anti-abortion.
“That was one of the most amazing statements I’ve ever heard,’’ said a prominent Democrat who has known Cuomo for years, noting that the governor in the past has claimed he was committed to cooperating with his political opponents.
“It’s like the old ugly Andrew is back, the way Andrew used to be and had promised after 2002 that he wouldn’t be anymore,’’ the source continued, referring to Cuomo’s repeated pledges of new-found humility after his defeat in the race for governor that year.
Another key Democrat — known to virtually all party activists — said prominent Democrats had become increasingly unhappy with Cuomo’s “belittling’’ of de Blasio.
“Cuomo’s MO of pretending to be high-minded while belittling de Blasio has become a tedious trick,’’ said the source.
“Since [Cuomo’s] sagging polls are in part due to people understanding he’s a nasty piece of work — Astorino’s use of ‘scorpion’ is dead-on — perhaps he should try governing and see if that works.
“De Blasio is tricky in his own way but looks like an alter boy compared to Andrew,’’ the source, who has known Cuomo for years, continued.
So, why the Cuomo dinner with de Blasio?
And who leaked the story to the Post?
My inner bullshit meter says it's in Cuomo's interests to show that he's making an effort to work with de Blasio so he can say to those critics sniping at him that "Old Ugly Andy" is back that this is not the case, he really is trying to work with de Blasio.
In the past, Cuomo had been "winning" the feud between the two, if not in polls, at least politically, because he had successfully isolated de Blasio and had the upper hand in both the political battles between the two and the media accounts of those battles.
But with Dems "sniping" both privately and publicly that Cuomo was going too far, Cuomo may have realized it was in his best interest to reach out to de Blasio and make it look like he's trying to work with him.
In the end, as with everything Cuomoesque, I wouldn't exactly trust him if I were de Blasio (in fact, I probably would have brought a food taster with me to the dinner if I had been him.)
Nonetheless, that the meeting took place and somebody felt the need to leak it to the Post is quite interesting to me.
As for the Stringer/Peebles "power" breakfast, that clearly looks like Stringer reaching out to a potential funder for a 2017 challenge to de Blasio.
Peebles played this same kind of game against former DC mayor Adrian Fenty back in the day and Peebles has already indicated he wants to see de Blasio go.
Stringer also publicly sucked up to Cuomo a few months back:
Gov. Andrew Cuomo over the weekend received some warm words from New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer.
Later today, he will be attending a roundtable discussion with U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries.
Both Stringer and Jeffries just happen to be potential mayoral candidates and rivals to the incumbent, Bill de Blasio.
Stringer on Sunday singled out Cuomo for praise during an event hosted by Sen. Adriano Espaillat.
“Governor, it’s been so good having you in New York City, protecting all of us,” Stringer said.
Boy, how's that for a subtle suck-up job from Stringer?
In any case, given the job he's done as comptroller and the political realities of what it would take to defeat a sitting Democratic mayor in a primary, I think Stringer's delusional if he actually thinks he can successfully primary de Blasio.
Also would note that while Cuomo likes people to suck up to him, he also tends to treat those same people with disdain and contempt if they show weakness - and let's be frank, Stringer's "You make us all feel so safe, governor!" line oozes weakness.
In the end, I bet Cuomo still wants to find a challenger to de Blasio and knows that Jeffries is his best bet to take out his former "frenemy."
Dinner or no dinner, I doubt Cuomo's buried the hatchet with de Blasio - except maybe the proverbial one, right into de Blasio's mayorality.