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Cuomo: Judge me on what I've done, not what I'll do

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Gov. Cuomo does not talk a lot about what his agenda would be if voters give him a third term. He says his record of what he’s done in the past is more important than what he’d do in the future.

In a speech before the state’s Business Council, Cuomo devoted most of a forty minute PowerPoint presentation to listing what he said were his accomplishments during his first two terms in office. They include infrastructure projects like revamping the state fairgrounds and renovating airports.

"More construction in this state than ever before in the history of the state," Cuomo said on September 25. "We are actually doing it."

30 minutes into the speech, the governor briefly mentioned some of the items he would like to achieve in the next four years.

"We have a women's rights agenda, gun safety red-flag bill, campaign finance reform, ethics reform, criminal justice reform, Child Victim's Act, voting reform," Cuomo said, without offering any details on any of the proposals. 

It was a rare mention of the governor’s future plans. Speaking to reporters afterward, Cuomo explained why he seldom focuses on the future and prefers to talk about the past. He likens the job of governor to CEO of a company.

"The first question to the CEO would be, ‘how has the company performed under your leadership? What have you accomplished?,'" said Cuomo. "That should be the question that voters ask."

In other speeches to audiences that have included Democratic elected officials and union members, Cuomo has talked more about his opposition to President Trump, saying Trump’s policies are the biggest threat the state faces.

"He’s the Bernie Madoff of politics, and ultimately the Ponzi scheme failed," Cuomo said at a Democratic Party rally on September 18.

Cuomo’s Republican opponent in the governor’s race, Marc Molinaro, said Cuomo is focusing on Trump to distract from flaws in the governor’s record, including corruption convictions of former top aides and associates, and high taxes in the state.

"Andrew Cuomo is like some sort of deranged Wizard of Oz," Molinaro said. "’Pay no attention to the corruption in my administration. Look over there, it’s Donald Trump’."

Independent candidate for governor, and former mayor of Syracuse, Stephanie Miner said she also opposes many of Trump’s policies, but said candidates have to offer New Yorkers more than that.

"You fight against policies by talking substance and facts and why they’re wrong," Miner said. "Not just standing up and bellowing against them."

Miner said the governor’s race needs to focus more on things like ethics reform, and delivering better health care to New Yorkers.

Steve Greenberg, political analyst and spokesman for Siena College polls, said the governor is focusing on Trump because…it works.

"He uses President Trump as foil, which is a smart political strategy for the governor," Greenberg said earlier in the campaign.

He said Cuomo knows that the president is unpopular in the state.

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.