Mayor Bill de Blasio insisted Wednesday that he could continue to advance his progressive agenda for New York City in Albany despite Tuesday's election of an outright Republican majority in the State Senate.
De Blasio had campaigned hard for Democratic candidates in hopes his party would win the Senate. Political observers noted that with the current divided leadership in the chamber, de Blasio has been deeply dependent upon Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo as a sometime advocate in the capital -- a situation unlikely to change.
"Certainly, a Democratic Senate would have been friendlier to the mayor," said Kenneth Sherrill, a Hunter College professor emeritus of political science. "And the governor wants to keep a lid on spending, so I don't know if the governor would be any friendlier."
De Blasio said he expected to work "very, very closely" with Cuomo.
In races around the state, Republican candidates had won in part by criticizing their Democratic opponents' links or similarities to de Blasio.
Senate Majority Leader Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) said Wednesday in a Capitol Pressroom radio interview said the Democratic message failed.
"It was more about Bill de Blasio taking over the state than it was about what people care about in the Hudson Valley area and upstate New York," he said.
Still, de Blasio said legislative gains the city made this year under the Senate's bipartisan leadership made him optimistic for the next two years, and he believed a union-supported "coalition" that tried to elect Democrats will grow stronger over time.
"This is all changing the foundations of the politics of our state," he said. "It got us only so far this time."
De Blasio won $300 million for his universal pre-K rollout from Cuomo last spring after the governor rejected de Blasio's plan to finance the program with a tax increase on the city's top earners as financing.
De Blasio credited grassroots activism for that victory and said a similar grassroots approach could be taken in coming fights to secure more fundfor city schools and allow the city to set its own minimum wage. Cuomo favors a uniform state minimum wage increase.
De Blasio also wants Albany to pass the Dream Act to provide tuition help to noncitizens who came to the country at a young age.
"A lot of Republicans are going to try and resist that," he said. "I think they will do that at their own peril."
De Blasio denied he hurt the Democratic Party's chances.
Democratic political consultant Jerry Skurnik said he expects Cuomo will support de Blasio on some issues but not others, such as the publicly funded, privately run charter schools whose growth the mayor seeks to limit. He noted that the state Assembly still has a Democratic majority.
"So it will be a little more challenging, but it won't be completely antagonistic in Albany against the city," he said.