Friendship is in the eye of the beholder.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo insisted in a radio interview today that he and Mayor Bill de Blasio are still “friends” who enjoy a healthy debate–even as those close to the mayor say he is fed up with his fellow Democrat.
“Mayor de Blasio and I have known each other for 25 years. Our personal relationship is not an issue,” Mr. Cuomo told WCNY’s Susan Arbetter. “Bill and I will be friends after these jobs are over.”
“That is not to say,” he added, “that I’m not going to fight like a Trojan for what I believe and nor is he going to do anything less than fight like a Trojan for what he believes.”
Mr. Cuomo said the ongoing fight between himself and Mr. de Blasio over the renewal of a real estate tax break, mayoral control and a host of other issues amounts to little more than a “healthy debate.”
“A healthy debate is good and we should have more of it. So I have no problem–frankly I’m probably freer to do it with him and he with me because we are friends,” Mr. Cuomo continued. “So we don’t have to worry about any political silliness. A healthy debate is healthy.”
Mr. de Blasio doesn’t agree. In the past few days, he has questioned Mr. Cuomo’s leadership and called the governor’s criticisms of his proposed reforms for 421a, an abatement for developers to spur affordable housing, “distractions.” Yesterday, Mr. de Blasio seemed to regret investing tremendous political capital in endorsing Mr. Cuomo’s re-election bid and securing him the support of the liberal Working Families Party.
Behind-the-scenes, allies of the mayor and governor continue to snipe at each other. Multiple news outlets, including the Observer, have characterized the relationship as hitting a new low since Mr. de Blasio was elected last January.
But Mr. Cuomo, who has appeared to delight in foiling Mr. de Blasio on a variety of fronts, tried to play down the bitterness.
“He is a tough advocate and I wouldn’t respect him if he wasn’t,” the governor said.