Cuomo vs. de Blasio: New York Dems' Infamous feud extends to coronavirus

Coronavirus precautions are only the latest chapter of the feud between the New York governor and New York City mayor

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo
(Stephanie Keith / Getty Images)
Last Updated:
March 23, 2020 - 1:31pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Despite nominally being members of the same political team, and more than nominally being top elected officials in the same state, there has never been much political love lost between New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Be it disagreements about funding for the perpetually struggling New York subway system, fighting over how to find the money for universal pre-k, or feuding about whether to raise taxes on the rich, there is a well-documented history of political animosity between the Democratic governor and Progressive mayor.

Hillary Clinton even famously joked about the rivalry at the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation dinner in 2016. She thanked Cardinal Timothy Dolan for convincing two people at odds with each other to attend the same event. Dolan was, at the time, seated between arch political rivals Clinton and Donald Trump.

Clinton's infamous line was: “Your eminence, you do deserve great credit for bringing together two people who have been at each other’s throats. Mortal enemies. Bitter foes. … How did you get the governor and the mayor here tonight?”


De Blasio and Cuomo's notable feud is now on more prominent display – as the city and state grapple with what measures to take to slow the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

On Tuesday, the mayor gave a press conference that shook many around the city of roughly 8.6 million people.

“I think New Yorkers should be prepared right now for the possibility of a shelter-in-place order,” said de Blasio. “The city will work closely with the state to decide if this is the right strategy to implement.”

By nightfall, the governor had dismissed the order as a possibility.

“I don’t think shelter in place really works for one locality,” Cuomo told CNN anchor Jake Tapper that evening. “As a matter of fact, I’m going so far (to say) that I don’t even think you can do a state-wide policy.”

The governor pointed out that as a “New York city boy” himself, he understands that New Yorkers excel at skirting restrictive rules. And he predicted that if given the command to shelter-in-place, many of them would leave to stay with friends and family members in neighboring suburbs, which could further spread the deadly virus.

The state of New York now has 4,152 virus-related cases, including more than 2,400 in New York City. Twenty people in the state have reportedly died from the virus.

In the all-important public relations battle, Cuomo appears to have the advantage. New Yorkers largely seem to view his actions as swift and strong. He’s also been in lockstep with the federal government, attempting to prepare New York communities and hospitals for the expected onslaught of cases.

De Blasio appears to be less successful, in part because the day before he told city-dwellers to prepare for the possibility of a shelter-in-place order, he was spotted at the gym.

The mayor wanted to “visit a place that keeps him grounded one last time” before the city-wide shutdown, his office said in response to the criticism. 

Shop Our Store