Cuomo Rejects Criticism for Avoiding Senate Leadership Dispute

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, criticized by black lawmakers for not objecting to a proposed governing coalition in the State Senate between Republicans and a group of dissident Democrats, insisted on Monday that it was not his place to get involved in what he called “a schism within the Democrats” in the chamber.

Mr. Cuomo, speaking on an Albany radio program, brushed off suggestions by two black senators at a rally organized by the Rev. Al Sharpton on Saturday that the governor did not want non-white lawmakers in positions of power. All but one of the members of the announced coalition are white, while the Senate Democratic caucus has 14 black and Hispanic members.

“Let’s just say the Senate has had a long tradition and flair for the dramatic, both in statements and action,” Mr. Cuomo said on WGDJ-AM.

Some Democrats have expressed frustration with Mr. Cuomo for not trying to elect more of his fellow Democrats to the Senate, and, more recently, for not pushing for Democratic leadership of the chamber.

While Democrats appear to have won a numerical majority in the Senate, five Democratic senators, who make up the Independent Democratic Conference, agreed last week to form a power-sharing coalition with the Senate Republicans, and a sixth Democrat has said he will caucus with the Republicans.

“A governor’s job is not to involve himself or herself in the internal power dynamic or leadership of the Legislature,” Mr. Cuomo said. He raised the example of what would happen if he went to the State Assembly and tried to oust the speaker, Sheldon Silver, a Manhattan Democrat, saying such a move would prompt widespread outrage.

“I could just see what those guys would write,” the governor said of the news media. “‘Cuomo wants to control everything’ is where they would go.”

Some black and Hispanic leaders have urged Mr. Cuomo to lobby the leaders of the new Senate coalition – Senators Jeffrey D. Klein, a Bronx Democrat, and Dean G. Skelos, a Long Island Republican – to appoint multiple non-white Democrats to committee chairmanships in order to improve the diversity of the chamber’s leadership. But Mr. Cuomo said it was not his job to suggest who should receive different positions within the Senate.

“I’m not going to meddle,” he said.

Mr. Cuomo, who has been mentioned as a possible presidential candidate in 2016, was also asked on the radio program about the White House prospects of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

“There is no doubt that she is incredibly popular,” Mr. Cuomo said. “She has great experience, and there’s going to be all sorts of speculation about her political future. She’s the person who’s going to make the decision.”

Asked if he would support Mrs. Clinton in a Democratic primary should she decide to seek their party’s nomination, Mr. Cuomo, who was federal housing secretary in Bill Clinton’s administration, responded, “Oh, it’s a long way away.”

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