Among the calls Andrew Cuomo received after his big win last week was one from Conservative Party chairman Mike Long.
“I just thought it was the right thing to do to congratulate him and wish him well,” said Long, who referenced their chat in a letter this morning urging the governor-elect to scale back on the MTA’s bridge and tunnel tolls.
“I want him to succeed, not to fail,” Long explained, “to shrink the size of government where possible, lower taxes and certainly get a handle on the spending.”
It’s something of an about-face for the chairman, who opposed Cuomo in the general election and said he was “very disappointed” when Staten Island’s Conservative Borough President James Molinaro endorsed the Democratic nominee in October.
But today, Long acknowledged the centrism of Cuomo’s campaign, which included a number of traditionally non-Democratic promises.
“Look, if he lowers taxes, and reduces property taxes–certainly caps the growth of it–cuts agencies by 20 percent, those are the things that the Conservative Party has been speaking about for decades,” said Long, who reminded me that Cuomo spoke about government consolidation at Long’s political action conference last year.
“I’ll be the first one to stand on the street corner yelling to the highest places in our society if [he does that],” said Long. “I’ll also be the first one to criticize if that isn’t done.”
Long said his wasn’t an obligatory call, and he’s not in the habit of reaching out to Democratic candidates after their wins. (Long’s candidate in the race, Carl Paladino, still hadn’t received a call back from the governor-elect as of yesterday, according to his spokesman.)
“I don’t normally do it. But let me put it this way, I’ve had some time on this earth. I certainly knew his dad, know his dad, campaigned against his dad,” Long said with a laugh.
Long and Mario Cuomo got into a tussle one night when Cuomo was running for mayor in 1977–a scrap that was embellished a bit in the first editions of the book The Bronx is Burning, which was subsequently corrected, at Long’s request.
“The first version had me cold-cocked, and that wasn’t true,” Long said.