Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave his inaugural address on New Year’s Day at Ellis Island. Gothamist described the event as “an evening of stagecraft and symbolism, with hundreds of VIPs and journalists filling the Great Historic Hall.” However, two VIPs—Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) and soon-to-be-Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers)—did not attend the affair.
The absence of the State Legislature’s two most prominent legislative leaders (both of whom share the Governor’s Democratic Party affiliation) from the inauguration did not go unnoticed in the media. State of Politics noted that Speaker Heastie has “remained vocally dissatisfied with the strings attached to the [recently-approved] legislative pay raise,” adding that Heastie’s spokesman “went as far as to provide running criticisms of Cuomo on Twitter” during his address. For her part, Leader Stewart-Cousins cannot be pleased that the Governor tacitly approved the alliance between Senate Republicans and the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) for more than seven years before changing course in 2018; the GOP-IDC power-sharing arrangement blocked Leader Stewart-Cousins’s path to the Majority Leader post for some time. The New York Times reported that during an August 2017 meeting with the Governor, Leader Stewart-Cousins said, “‘You look at me, Mr. Governor, but you don’t see me.'” The Times described the remark as “[a] profound moment in a fractious relationship.”
In the lead-up to last fall’s elections, Gov. Cuomo pushed for full Democratic control of the State Legislature. But when it comes time to negotiate the New York State Budget and other complex legislation, Gov. Cuomo’s less-than-warm relationship with the two legislative leaders—each of whom is more liberal than the Governor, and neither of whom appears to fear him—could create profound challenges for his administration.