Smiling for the cameras may require some serious teeth clenching when the Nassau County Democratic Committee honors Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday. Cuomo has a complicated relationship with many of his fellow Democrats and Nassau County sits high on that list of complicated relationships.
First is Cuomo’s relationship with the Nassau Democrats’ nemesis, County Executive Ed Mangano. Mangano, a Republican, shocked Democrats with his 2009 victory over incumbent Tom Suozzi and he was easily reelected in a 2013 Suozzi rematch. Mangano and Nassau Democrats have had a contentious relationship throughout his time in office. Cuomo has cultivated a relationship with Mangano, however, with Mangano endorsing Cuomo’s 2014 reelection bid. In two appearances just before election day Cuomo offered strong praise for Mangano (and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone), as shown in these video clips.
Cuomo will have a co-honoree at Tuesday’s dinner, Acting Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas. Singas has been the Acting District Attorney since Kathleen Rice was elected to Congress last year. As governor, Cuomo has the power to appoint Singas (or anyone else) as the replacement District Attorney. Doing so would remove “Acting” from Singas’ title and likely give her an electoral boost as she runs for election. Cuomo has not done so, however. In January the State of Politics blog looked into the possibility that Cuomo withheld that Singas appointment as part of a deal for Mangano’s support.
Singas’ predecessor Kathleen Rice, now a Democratic member of the House of Representatives representing Nassau County, has had some friction in her own relationship with Cuomo. He initially encouraged her to run for attorney general in 2010, but backed away from her as the campaign progressed and an anticipated victory slipped away from her. In 2013 Cuomo appointed Rice as one of three co-chairs of his ill-fated Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption. She resigned in January 2014, as she began her Congressional campaign. She’s been publicly silent on reports that Cuomo and his staff interfered with the Commission, but its been reported that Rice and other Commission members have told U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s investigators that Cuomo and his staff “intervened …’in a manner that, at times, led them to question the independence’ of the panel.”
Finally, there’s a Tom Suozzi thread here as well. Suozzi and Cuomo have known each other for decades. It was Suozzi who Mangano has twice beaten. Cuomo’s early interest in Kathleen Rice’s 2010 attorney general candidacy appeared to offer, among other draws for Cuomo, an impediment to Suozzi’s own interest in running. His prospective candidacy faded after his loss to Mangano.
Perhaps time, and campaign cash, can heal all wounds. Stay tuned.