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Cuomo gains major business endorsement

Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during the Business Council of New York State's annual meeting.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been endorsed by the state’s largest business lobby for his reelection bid. The New York State Business Council made the announcement Wednesday at the Plug Power energy manufacturing company near Albany.

Business Council President Heather Briccetti says her group is endorsing Cuomo over his GOP challenger Rob Astorino because of the governor’s record on achieving four on-time budgets, enacting business tax cuts and holding the increase in state spending and property taxes to two percent each year. She also praised Cuomo’s bi-partisan governing style.

“Gov. Cuomo has shown an ability to get very difficult issues through an often sharply divided state legislature,” Briccetti said.

Cuomo, who says the endorsement is a big deal to him, said in a speech at an energy manufacturing plant that, if reelected, he’ll invest up to $1 billion to provide greater access to broadband in New York.

“Broadband availability is going to be what the Interstate road system was in the '50s,” Cuomo said.

The governor has also received the endorsement of the left-leaning Working Families Party, and promised them he would help Democrats take over the state Senate. Cuomo says he does not see a conflict between the two endorsements, saying it’s a state with very diverse opinions.

“You have business groups, you have groups that are against capitalism,” Cuomo said. “Part of the challenge of being governor of the state is that you represent everyone. It’s hard when you have the spectrum that we have.”

Cuomo says he is continuing to work to get Democratic senators elected, and plans some campaign events soon.

Republican candidate Astorino appeared at the annual meeting of the New York State Business Council in late September. In contrast to Cuomo, who said the economy is improving, Astorino painted a darker portrait of New York, and chided business leaders for being too complacent.

“You have the clout to demand better, but you reward leaders who are, at best, managing the steady decline of New York,” Astorino said. “Whoever gets elected gets the business community’s support in New York, and rarely your criticism.”

Briccetti says Astorino’s remarks had nothing to do with the group’s ultimate decision.

The endorsement comes as a Quinnipiac poll shows the race closing somewhat, but Astorino is still 20 points behind Cuomo, at 51 to 31 percent. 

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.