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Democratic Party leaders hoping for unity at state convention

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Albany/HV: Democratic Party leaders hoping for unity at state convention
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There are no divides over which candidates the Democrats are backing. But the party does still have some internal conflicts and the candidates are also facing pressure from outside groups. Capital Tonight's Nick Reisman explains.

As Governor Andrew Cuomo is poised to once again be nominated by the state Democratic Party for another term, he's facing skepticism from the liberal wing of the party, especially on the issue of public financing. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is urging patience.

"He has tried. Believe me, I have been at meetings constantly where he has tried to get public financing done," said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Democrat.

A Quinnipiac poll on Wednesday found Cuomo would handily defeated his GOP opponent, Rob Astorino. But the inclusion of a liberal candidate running on the labor-backed Working Families Party line would reduce the governor's margin of victory. Democrats like consultant Hank Sheinkopf insist the party is united.

"This is really a united party. The governor has taken on issues that matter to all segments of it and there will be no problems whatsoever," said Democratic consultant Hank Sheinkopf.

Public financing advocates remain upset over an agreement in the state budget that only creates a system for the comptroller's race. Incumbent Democrat Tom DiNapoli isn't participating in the program, and he's critical of the system that was set up.

"They did not take the proposal that we've had for a number of years. There's not an independent campaign finance system that's going to oversee the system. They changed the rules on me and this race three and a half years into a four year election cycle," said NYS Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.

In the Senate, things are more complicated. Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein also faces pressure for a broader agreement.

"I think it is an important first step, but we need to do more. We need to others included. The governor, the Legislature, the attorney general," said Klein.

Speaker Silver says Cuomo's early successes have raised expectations for those on the left.

"You know, he can't succeed at everything. For them, he's a victim of his success. He got marriage equality passed, therefore they think he can do anything," said Silver.

Senate Republicans have indicated they're open to a deal on public financing, but Silver in an interview says he's skeptical that will happen this year.


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