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Cuomo: Judge me on what I've done, not what I'll do

Governor's Office
Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks before the state's Business Council.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo doesn’t talk a lot about what his agenda would be if voters give him a third term. Cuomo said his record of what he’s done in the past is more important than what he’d do in the future.

In a speech before the state’s Business Council, Cuomo devoted most of a 40-minute presentation to listing what he said were his accomplishments during his first two terms in office. They include infrastructure projects such as revamping the state fairgrounds and renovating airports.

“More construction in this state than ever before in the history of the state,” Cuomo said. “We are actually doing it.”

Thirty minutes into the speech, the governor briefly mentioned some of the items he’d like to achieve in the next four years.

“We have a women's rights agenda, gun safety red-flag bill, campaign finance reform, ethics reform, criminal justice reform, Child Victims Act, voting reform,” Cuomo said without offering any details on any of the proposals.

It was a rare mention of the governor’s future plans. Speaking to reporters afterward, Cuomo explained why he seldom focuses on the future and prefers to talk about the past. He likened the job of governor to CEO of a company.

“The first question to the CEO would be, ‘How has the company performed under your leadership? What have you accomplished?’” Cuomo said. “That should be the question that voters ask.”

In other speeches to audiences that have included Democratic elected officials and union members, Cuomo has talked more about his opposition to President Donald Trump, saying Trump’s policies are the biggest threat the state faces.

“He’s the Bernie Madoff of politics and, ultimately, the Ponzi scheme failed,” Cuomo said at a Democratic Party rally on Sept. 18.

Marc Molinaro, Cuomo’s Republican opponent in the governor’s race, said Cuomo is focusing on Trump to distract from flaws in the governor’s record, including corruption convictions of former top aides and associates and high taxes in the state.

“Andrew Cuomo is like some sort of deranged Wizard of Oz,” Molinaro said. “‘Pay no attention to the corruption in my administration. Look over there, it’s Donald Trump.’ ”

Stephanie Miner, an independent candidate for governor and former Syracuse mayor, said she also opposes many of Trump’s policies, but candidates have to offer New Yorkers more than that.

“You fight against policies by talking substance and facts and why they’re wrong,” Miner said in an interview with public radio and television. “Not just standing up and bellowing against them.”

Miner said the governor’s race needs to focus more on things like ethics reform and delivering better health care to New Yorkers.

Steve Greenberg, a political analyst and spokesman for Siena College polls, said the governor is focusing on Trump because it works.

“He uses President Trump as a foil, which is a smart political strategy for the governor,” Greenberg said earlier in the campaign.

He said Cuomo knows that the president is unpopular in the state.

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.