Behind the scenes in Albany, two very tough, smart men with differing ideas on how the state should be run are in danger of spinning their wheels, and ours, with a personal feud that could stand in the way of progress.
Governor Eliot Spitzer and Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno are engaged in a so far hands-off prizefight, a title bout that would crown its winner as the undisputed ruler of New York. Bruno, who used to be a boxer, is pretty good at making the man we elected to run the state angry and frustrated.
The governor sternly warned Mr. Bruno at a public meeting, “This is my room and we’ll play by my rules.” At the same meeting, Mr. Bruno puckered his lips and blew air kisses when another lawmaker complimented the governor. In a speech this month, Mr. Bruno mocked the governor before more than a thousand Republicans, recounting the way Mr. Spitzer once described himself as “a [expletive] steamroller.”
“Well,” Mr. Bruno said, “he’s right about the first part.”
The Times tells us one argument between the pugnacious pols got so loud, people in the Capitol thought a crew of construction workers just outside the building was about to duke it out. No fisticuffs between Joe and Eliot yet- so far as anyone knows. Despite his famous temper, the governor probably would not take a swing at a man 31 years his senior.
They could just wait each other out, but Spitzer can’t resist making political moves to break the Senate’s Republican majority, and Bruno is forever on the attack, making it more difficult for the governor to advance his agenda.
A continuing federal investigation of his business dealings could wind up crippling or removing Bruno- if the FBI actually has a case. Otherwise, the old man of the Senate shows no sign of slowing down, and remains as aggressive as the Governor in trying to get what he wants. If only they could find a way for both to win, the people of their state might also come out on top.