In New York, Election Day was a victory for Governor Cuomo but a partial setback for Mayor de Blasio. Despite the mayor’s all-out push—he dispatched two top aides and wheedled top donors—Republicans solidified their hold on the New York State Senate. Toppling three incumbents outside of New York City, the party now has a one-seat majority, and can ease its dependence on breakaway Democrats. Republican control of one Albany house will help protect Gotham from some damaging policies but won’t push New York City in a different direction.
With Republicans in charge, de Blasio will need help from Cuomo to make headway on some of his signature goals: freezing rents on regulated apartments, implementing a $10-an-hour-plus “living wage” for the city’s private-sector workers, and hiking the city’s income-tax rate for top earners. That’s not to say that de Blasio won’t be able to achieve these goals, especially the last two (city control over rent regulations is probably a non-starter now). To make better friends with progressives, Cuomo could support a higher minimum wage for the city—and in fact, he already supports it.
As for the income tax: that depends not on policy but on the economy. If Wall Street keeps doing well, Cuomo will stave off de Blasio’s tax-hike request by sending more cash the city’s way, as the governor did this year with pre-K funding. If Wall Street hits a rough patch, then Albany will hike both its own income tax and the city’s to close deficits, just as it has done in the past.
But won’t the state senate Republicans stop them? Not necessarily. They’ve certainly proved biddable in the past.
The big difference now is that de Blasio won’t be able to go as far as he would like to with his favorite policies—and he’ll have to share a good deal of the credit for what “progress” he does make with Cuomo. As the mayor has learned, his supposed mandate in New York City doesn’t give him a power-broker role in Albany.