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Trump troubles could affect New York races

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Democrats in New York are trying to keep the heat on Republicans running for office over the coarse remarks made by GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump in a leaked video.

Every day since Friday’s release of the tape — where Donald Trump disparages women in a crude manner — Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, has slammed Trump. And he’s urged New York Republicans to disassociate themselves from the top of their ticket.

“They should stand up and say, ‘I’m a Republican, but I’m a New Yorker first,’ ” Cuomo said. “‘And we’ll have nothing to do with the degradation of women.’ ”  

The presidential campaign could be a major factor in several close congressional races and in the fight for control of the state Senate, where Republicans have control with the help of one Democrat who meets with them. They do not have the numerical majority of 32 members that they need to lead the Senate outright.

Democratic Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins was quick to condemn Senate Republicans who have not publicly disavowed Trump, saying it is “shameful” to continue to support a “proven misogynist.”

“It demands, really, that Republicans in the state Senate say, ‘Enough is enough,’ ” Stewart-Cousins said.

Democrats believe the recent controversies surrounding Trump, combined with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s strength in New York, could help them retake the Senate. Stewart-Cousins said she also believes Democrats have a “talented array” of candidates.

Cuomo, who also might be seeing the tide turn, is holding three fundraisers in coming weeks for Senate Democrats. The governor in past election cycles has been criticized for not doing enough to help Democrats win Senate seats, and has often prided himself on his good working relationship with the Senate GOP.

The Trump controversy has caused many Republican office-holders to criticize him or even withdraw their support.

Senate Republican Leader John Flanagan declared at the national convention in Cleveland in July that he was wholeheartedly a Trump backer.  

“I am supporting Donald Trump for president,” Flanagan said on July 21. “I’m going to do so with grace, with diplomacy, with passion, with fervor.”

But now, through a spokesman, Flanagan said that “Donald Trump’s recent comments are offensive and intolerable” and “do not represent the values” of the men and women of the Senate Republican Conference. 

Flanagan spokesman Scott Reif made a distinction between positions held by the Senate GOP and Trump’s national candidacy, saying the Senate passed women's equality legislation that “ensures equal pay for equal work, protects the victims of domestic violence and creates zero tolerance for sexual harassment in the workplace.” 

“Actions speak louder than words,” Reif said.

But he did not say whether he intends to fully break with Trump.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. WBFO listeners are accustomed to hearing DeWitt’s insightful coverage throughout the day, including expanded reports on Morning Edition.