Borough President Eric Adams, the Democratic nominee for mayor, met with Gov. Andrew Cuomo at a church in Flatbush Wednesday, where they pledged to maintain a positive relationship in contrast to Cuomo’s often sour rapport with lame duck Bill de Blasio.
“We see eye-to-eye that we must put in place real changes for people on the ground,” Adams said at a Wednesday morning press conference with the governor at Lenox Road Baptist Church on Nostrand Avenue.
The duo were ostensibly in central Brooklyn to discuss mitigation efforts against gun violence, but the affair quickly turned to a Freudian examination on the dynamic between the two men, and the conspicuous absence of the sitting mayor, with observers probing Cuomo and the beep on how they’ll work together should Adams relocate to Gracie Mansion in January.
Cuomo effusively praised Adams as a “practical progressive” who shares his governing philosophy, saying he understands the need to tackle the issues of crime and gun violence in particular, and pointedly noted that he expects to have a better relationship with Adams than he has with Hizzoner.
“We are at a critical moment in New York City, where we need progressive government, but we need progressive government that works,” Cuomo said.
“It’s not easy, it’s hard,” the third-term governor continued. “Two elements, courage and competence. And I believe Eric Adams has both of those elements. And I pledge today to work in full partnership with him, to solve these problems in New York, to reestablish an effective progressive government.”
Adams said he was “the original progressive” and referred to himself, again, as “the face of the Democratic Party.”
“I am the face of the Democratic Party,” the beep said. “Those countless men and women, everyday workers, they want safe streets, they want their children educated, they want to stop hearing gunshots instead of alarm clocks, they want to make sure they’re employed and can live in the city.”
The relationship between the almost-certain next mayor and the governor is a significant shift from Cuomo’s relationship with de Blasio — as the state’s chief executive almost always held the upper hand over his city counterpart.
Now, however, Cuomo is weakened by compounding scandals while possibly gearing up for another reflection fight next year, while Adams secured strong support in his race from the very voters that Cuomo will need to rely on to win a potential primary contest.
That dynamic has given the city’s likely next chief executive a strong hand in his dealings with Albany, and possible license to push for changes like congestion pricing, an expanded earned-income tax credit, and more.
But while the two men share inherently different goals and incentives, the pair discussed major issues in very similar terms, spending much of their remarks on crime and gun violence. Both argued that gun violence in the city is going ignored because most of the victims are Black, brown, and poor — and that the city was getting dangerous to the point that people are living in fear.
“No one is getting back on our subway system to fill the office towers of Manhattan if people are getting shoved onto the subway tracks,” Adams said.
They also criticized what they both view as overly ideological progressives who are more talk than walk, notably those embracing defunding the police.
“The answer is not to abolish the police,” Cuomo said. “You abolish the police, only rich people have the police.” The governor asserted that he has heard from New Yorkers that there is “a general sense of lawlessness in the city.”
Cuomo and Adams did not present the advertised proposal on preventing gun violence together, but the governor noted that the program would involve targeted interventions to prevent gun violence, and include 4,000 state-funded jobs in the city for youths.
It’s anyone’s guess if the peaceful partnership will last. Cuomo and de Blasio, now fierce nemeses, were once friends and colleagues, and at the beginning of de Blasio’s mayoralty, it was not at all clear that there would be such enmity between the two.
The complicated dynamics between Albany and City Hall are known to get in the way of productive relationships between governors and mayors, but Adams, a former state senator, is well versed in both cultures, and is dealing with a weakened Cuomo — potentially shifting the power dynamic toward the city’s future leader.