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As Cuomo says he supports fusion voting, commission heads toward ending practice

Governor Cuomo's office
Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks about fusion voting after an event in Schenectady, where he awarded the city a $10 million state grant for downtown revitalization projects.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he’s a supporter of fusion voting, or allowing candidates to run on multiple party lines, even though a commission that he and the Legislature appointed appears headed toward ending the practice. 

Cuomo said he backs fusion voting, and said he has accepted multiple party lines every time he’s run for office.

“So if I didn’t support it, I couldn’t do it,” Cuomo said.

A commission that Cuomo and the Legislature appointed to design a public campaign finance system is looking at limits to cross-party endorsements. The governor’s appointee, Jay Jacobs, who is also the head of the state Democratic Party and de facto chair of the commission, opposes fusion voting.

Both Cuomo and Jacobs have said that too many party lines might make a public finance system too expensive, though advocates say the public money would follow the candidate, not the individual party lines, and so would not cost any extra money. 

Cuomo said a public campaign finance system will be a very “positive” move, but it needs to mesh with fusion voting.  

“It is up to the commission to design an entire system, and these things have to work together,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo stopped short of saying he would act to change any of the commission’s recommendations if he disagrees with them.  

The commission issues its report the day before Thanksgiving. If the Legislature does not act by late December, the new rules have the force of law.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of public radio stations in New York state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.