Andrew Cuomo, who boycotted the state Democratic convention during his 2002 gubernatorial race, yesterday became the party's designee for state attorney general, winning 66% of the weighted vote at this year's convention in Buffalo.
Mr. Cuomo's victory was marred by accusations from a rival in the race, Mark Green, who said party leaders coerced his supporters into voting for Mr. Cuomo.
"Going through the democratic process has made me a better candidate," Mr. Cuomo said in his speech to more than 400 party delegates and political leaders, including his father, Governor Cuomo.
The nomination from the state Democratic Party did not carry with it the endorsement of the state Democratic Party leaders. The Assembly speaker, Sheldon Silver, and the state attorney general, Eliot Spitzer, who is running for governor, have not indicated if they would make endorsements in this race.
Helping coordinate Mr. Cuomo's floor operations - and, according to some, deliver votes - was a SEIU 1199 union organizer, Jennifer Cunningham, and a vice chairwoman of the New York Democratic committee, Emily Giske, who is a registered lobbyist with Bolton St. John.
"I'd like to thank Tom Manton, Vito Lopez, Rich Schaffer, Jose Rivera, and Jay Jacobs for their deals and threats at the behest of the Cuomo machine," Mr. Green said, referring to the Democratic county leaders in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Nassau and Suffolk counties.
"How can he stand up to special interests and political insiders when that's how he got on the ballot?" the former public advocate, who received 19% of the weighted vote, said.
"There was no arm-twisting," Ms. Giske said. "I am amazed that people would think that I, as an individual, would have any impact on telling people how to vote, or who to vote for."
According to Mr. Green, one of his East Side supporters was told by a party leader: "It won't help you get a contract to support Mark Green." He declined to elaborate, but did say it was an insurance contract from a private company, and therefore did not warrant a criminal investigation.
Mr. Cuomo, a U.S. housing secretary under President Clinton, dismissed the accusations. "People got to vote their conscious and I'm gratified by the results," he said.When asked if his campaign coerced delegates, Mr. Cuomo said, "No, obviously not."
Along with Mr. Cuomo, three other candidates are vowing to file petitions to challenge Mr. Green in the September primary: a former federal prosecutor, Denise O'Donnell, who received 10% of the vote; attorney Charlie King (5%), and a former White House aide, Sean Maloney (0.04%).
"This is a false moment," Ms. O'- Donnell said in a statement. "The real convention starts when the convention is over."
Mr. Lopez, an Assembly member and Democratic County leader of Brooklyn, said persuasion, not coercion, dictated the night's outcome. "Cuomo's campaign did a very, very good job organizing counties. It was done with a lot of hard work on their part.
"They had lunch, they had dialogues, they met delegates," Mr. Lopez said hours before he cast his vote for Mr. Cuomo.