Cuomo, Pelosi double down on partisanship

Earlier this week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo stood at a podium with U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to announce the state Democratic Party’s intention to target Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro, and seven other Republican members of Congress from New York state in the 2018 election.

According to a Buffalo News report on the rally, Cuomo said, “These are not moderate, responsible public officials. These are political pawns to the ultraconservative puppet masters in Washington.”

Of course, Pelosi and Cuomo want to replace those political pawns with a new set of liberal ones run by Pelosi in Washington — the same representative who infamously said Congress had to pass the Affordable Care Act in order to find out what was in the bill.

By at least one measure, however, Cuomo and Pelosi are dead wrong about at least three of the Republican Congress members they are targeting. The Lugar Center, led by former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, and the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University, recently released a bipartisanship ranking of the 114th Congress (2015-16) that indicates the degree to which senators and representatives work across party lines. Stefanik was ranked 31st among the 515 members of Congress in bipartisanship, Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, was ranked 32nd, and Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-Shirley, was ranked 45th. By that measure, these three are more than willing to work with Democrats in Washington, and Democrats apparently find these three relatively easy to work with as well.

We have seen Stefanik tack to the political middle quite a bit since Donald Trump was elected president. She became co-chair of the Tuesday Group coalition of moderate House Republicans, she opposed Trump withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris climate accord, she says Trump should release his tax returns, and she pushed to mitigate the American Health Care Act, even though she eventually voted for it. Her votes haven’t quite caught up with this centrist rhetoric, but there is no doubt she wants to be seen as bipartisan and is going out of her way to make it so.

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro (Official photo)

Therefore, it’s inaccurate for Cuomo and Pelosi to say otherwise. They are well within their right to fight to defeat the eight Republicans they targeted this week, but they would be more convincing if they stuck to facts.

It’s not that we necessarily endorse Stefanik for re-election. There is plenty of time to wait and see on that, and probably plenty of other candidates to consider. But Cuomo and Pelosi’s misrepresentation deserves criticism, as does their timing — a full 17 months before the next congressional election.

We hope voters recognize what Cuomo and Pelosi are peddling here is pure politics, which would lead to more gridlock and partisanship in Washington.