A day after reporters noticed that a quote from a “Cuomo administration official” ripping Mayor Bill de Blasio sounded an awful lot like it came from the governor himself, Gov. Andrew Cuomo seemed to admit today that he’d been trashing his “close friend” in the press.
“I said a lot of things yesterday,” Mr. Cuomo said after he was asked whether he had been the official who had criticized the mayor anonymously in the press yesterday. He went on to knock the mayor’s plan for overhauling the 421a tax credit. “If I don’t believe a proposal makes senses, I say it doesn’t make sense.”
But why, a reporter pressed, would he say something like that anonymously?
“Sometimes we talk on the record, sometimes we talk on background. There’s just a variety, it depends on the context. Sometimes its a little faster to talk off the record as you know,” Mr. Cuomo, speaking at an Albany press conference on end-of-session legislative deals, said.
The war of anonymous words between Mr. Cuomo and Mr. de Blasio—more frenemies than friends these days—has played out in the pages of tabloids and broadsheets alike this week. The Wall Street Journal quoted a “Cuomo administration official” saying the mayor was “bumbling and incompetent.”
But it was a quote in the Daily News that began most of the chatter about whether Mr. Cuomo himself might be a source for some of the rhetoric.
“How did the mayor think he was going to get mayoral control? ‘Well the Assembly will support me.’ They didn’t,” the News quoted a “top Cuomo administration” source as saying. “I think he puts himself in these situations.”
It sounded an awful lot like Mr. Cuomo, known for asking himself questions and then answering them. Several reporters pointed out the similarities to Mr. Cuomo’s speech patterns on Twitter.
When asked if anyone in the administration would be held accountable for telling the Journal the mayor was “bumbling and incompetent,” Mr. Cuomo brushed off the comment as just part of tense negotiations.
“Things are said. Feelings run high,” Mr. Cuomo said. “The mayor and his team are tenacious advocates. I am a tenacious advocate.”
This afternoon, Mr. de Blasio was holding a press conference at the same time as the governor—prompting reporters to ask him about Mr. Cuomo’s apparent admission. The mayor said he didn’t want to talk about “personalties,” an oft-used answer when he is asked about his relationship with Mr. Cuomo.
“We are focused on policy right now,” the mayor said.
The mayor has had little luck moving his agenda through Albany this year—though as recently as this morning he has argued there was still time to get the greater tenant protections and changes to the 421a tax credit that he wanted.
Ross Barkan contributed reporting.