One consequence of New York City’s Saturday night blackout: It shined a bright spotlight on the tensions between two prominent Democrats, the city’s mayor and the state’s governor.
As more than 70,000 customers — plus countless tourists and other visitors — dealt with the loss of electricity attributed to a transformer fire, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo blasted New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was in Iowa campaigning for president when the massive blackout hit Manhattan.
“I can count the number of times I leave the state basically on my fingers,” Cuomo told CNN, responding to a question about the importance of the mayor being in New York during an emergency.
“Mayors are important. And situations like this come up, you know. And you have to be on-site,” he said. “I think it’s important to be in a place where you can always respond. But look, everybody makes their own political judgment and I’m not going to second-guess anyone either. I do my job the way I think I should do my job and I leave it to others to do the same.”
“Mayors are important. And situations like this come up, you know. And you have to be on-site.”
De Blasio was at a campaign stop in Waterloo, Iowa, when an equipment failure at a transformer substation shut off power for tens of thousands of people in his city.
The mayor first told CNN he was mulling whether to return to New York, but later decided he would, according to the Washington Examiner. He plans to fly back to the city Sunday morning, a spokesperson said.
Late Saturday, the mayor issued several Twitter messages, indicating he was monitoring the situation back home.
“With the power back on, I’ve directed City agencies to investigate this evening’s blackout,” he wrote. “They’ll work with ConEd to get to the bottom of what happened tonight and prevent another widespread outage like this.”
Meanwhile, the governor was in New York City, speaking to reporters just before midnight. He confirmed that power had been restored to all affected customers.
“This could have been much worse,” Cuomo added, commending emergency responders. “When things are at their worst New Yorkers are at their best.”
The governor said he would be working with utility company Con Edison to make sure a blackout of Saturday’s magnitude doesn’t happen again.