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Lawmakers say Andrew Cuomo strong-arm tactics, scandals fueling calls to change name of Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge

By MARCIA KRAMER

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    TARRYTOWN, New York (WCBS) — Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s re-emergence on the political scene is stoking a new and more potent effort to take his family’s name off the old Tappan Zee Bridge.

As CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported Wednesday, although the bridge is named for Mario Cuomo, lawmakers feel that the way Andrew Cuomo bullied them to do his bidding adds to the need to undo what was always a controversial move.

Ever since he has emerged from his cocoon of shame, Andrew Cuomo has tried to convince people that he was done in by the so called “cancel culture.” And while that might work with some audiences, the lawmakers who were on the receiving end of his strong-arm tactics recall all to well how the Machiavellian strategist really got his dad’s name on the bridge.

It wasn’t pretty.

“The ex-governor managed to sneak in the changing of the name of the bridge at 2 o’clock in the morning as a ransom for the final piece of budget legislation,” Assemblyman Thomas Abinanti said.

Abinanti has one of two bills in Albany to change the name of the $4 billion twin bridges that connect Rockland and Westchester counties. He’s actually seeking a compromise, but he said more and more lawmakers are zeroing in on the need to change the name because of the scandals, Andrew Cuomo’s recent re-entry on the political scene, and because of the way he rammed the name down their throats.

“So is that 2 o’clock ransom attempt by Andrew Cuomo still sticking in the craw of people who remember it?” Kramer asked.

“Oh I believe it is. Yes, that is the best example of Andrew Cuomo’s bullying,” Abinanti said.

The Abinanti bill would change the name of the bridge to the Mario Cuomo Tappan Zee Bridge. He says it’s a compromise.

Another bill by Republican Assemblyman Mike Lawler that is picking up some bipartisan support would “cancel” Cuomo and call it the Tappan Zee.

“Frankly, the time for compromise on this has passed, with respect to adding the Tappan Zee name back,” Lawler said. “The governor didn’t want that at the time. He wanted the Cuomo family name. He, through his own actions — not mine, not anybody else’s, through his own actions — has disgraced that name and it needs to come off the bridge,” Lawler said.

Former Westchester County Executive and Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino said that if he wins he’ll make sure the name is changed.

“No Cuomo on that bridge. I will, myself, unscrew the C-U-O-M-O the first day and drop those letters into the Hudson River and it will go back to the Tappan Zee Bridge,” Astorino said.

Team Cuomo was not amused.

“With all the critically important issues facing New Yorkers, it’s craven stunts like this that separate the headline-chasing politicians from the public servants who are actually focused on making a difference,” said Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi.

And nearly four years after Andrew Cuomo officially christened the bridge by driving across the span with his mother, Matilda, in FDR’s 1932 Packard, there is still intense anger. Because of the former governor’s scandals, many don’t want to see his name on the bridge at all.

“I would like his name removed, absolutely,” said Kelli Johnn of Irvington.

“I’m comfortable with keeping the name on the bridge. Mario Cuomo was a good governor and I see no reason to retract it just because of certain indignities of his son,” said Cristopher Carthy of Armonk.

“Every time I pass and get on and see the name, it bothers me,” another person said.

“Bring it back to Tappan Zee. Personally, I think it’s ultimately the arrogance of the Cuomo family that changed it,” said Stephen Feleciano of Newburgh.

Lawmakers that Kramer spoke to said they are not against naming something for Mario Cuomo — something in Queens, where he was born and raised. But they will not change the name on some of the projects Andrew Cuomo embarked on, like fixing John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia airports.

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