Attorney general and now-candidate for governor Andrew Cuomo explained his surprising choice of Rochester Mayor Robert Duffy as his lieutenant governor candidate at a press conference in his Midtown office today.
“I had two basic points that I was looking to fulfill–someone who was ready to be governor of the State of New York if I was incapacitated from the position, and someone who reflects the values and qualities that I want to bring to state government,” Cuomo said. “Rochester Mayor Robert Duffy is that person.”
Duffy’s experience as mayor was a tipping point in Cuomo’s decision.
“When you are a mayor, you are on the front line and your performance or lack thereof is very obvious,” Cuomo said. “And Bob, as mayor of Rochester, has shown his performance over and over and over again.”
The pair say they stand united on several key issues—public integrity, personal standards, reducing taxes and economic development.
“[Mayor Duffy] has done in Rochester what we need to do in New York State,” Cuomo said, referring to the long line of scandals that have plagued Albany in recent months, not to mention the massive budget problems. “Get our fiscal house in order, consolidate government, focus on economic development and bring 100 percent integrity and honor back to government. There’s much to do to turn around New York.”
Rochester, Duffy said, can be viewed as a microcosm of the challenges that the state faces as a whole.
“As a mayor for the last four-plus years, I’ve seen firsthand the failures that we’ve seen in the state,” he said. He counts increased taxes, a dwindling population and a faltering economy among those failures.
Duffy, who accepted the position Tuesday, is a former Rochester police officer.
He graduated from the Aquinas Institute, Monroe Community College, and the Rochester Institute of Technology, and earned a master’s degree from Syracuse University.
The lieutenant governor hopeful was elected mayor of Rochester in 2005 and re-elected in an unopposed race four years later. He’s been married to his wife, Barbara, for 25 years. The couple have two children, Erin, 23, and Shannon, 21.
When it comes to his Cuomo, Duffy said he feels personally aligned with Cuomo’s philosophies.
“I believe in this man,” Duffy said. “This is not something I am just saying. This is not a political speech. This is not campaign talk. I believe in what he stands for, I believe in what he’s going to do.”
Despite the fact that Cuomo has created an all-white Democratic ticket in a state where nonwhite voters make up nearly a third of constituents, he maintained that diversity remains among his administration’s priorities. (He also called Al Sharpton to say so.)
“We strive for diversity everywhere,” he said. “My administration will be an administration that reflects diversity. Can you always get all the diversity you want when you want it? No.”
Cuomo also addressed state Democrat’s attempted “rebranding” of the party.
“I don’t know that there’s a rebranding,” he said. “What the Democratic Party is all about is growth and change and evolution. And it is a new day and these are new problems and new approaches, and that is what they mean by the ‘new’ Democratic Party.”