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NYSNYS NEWS: Clinton, Cuomo haunted by ghosts from the past as focus of campaigns turns to dismal state economy north of NYC.
NYSNYS NEWS: Clinton, Cuomo haunted by ghosts from the past as focus of campaigns turns to dismal state economy north of NYC.

By Kyle Hughes

ALBANY, N.Y. (August 12) -- With the upstate economy once again in the spotlight, the ghosts of campaigns past are back to haunt New York's twin political dynasties, the Cuomos and the Clintons.

Hillary Clinton is under attack from Republican Donald Trump for breaking a promise to create 200,000 new jobs upstate, which lost jobs as businesses and residents fled the state during her eight years as a U.S. senator.

"The state of New York has already lived through Hillary Clinton’s failed leadership," Trump said this week in a Detroit speech laying out his economic platform. He cited a news article repeating a famous bit of New York political lore, Clinton's promise to create 200,000 jobs during a series of "listening tour" stops around the state as she geared up to run for the seat being vacated by Senator Daniel P. Moynihan.

"But what happened?" Trump said. "The Washington Post writes, and I quote, upstate job growth stagnated overall during her tenure, with manufacturing jobs plunging nearly 25 percent -- the former first lady was unable to pass big ticket legislation -- many promised jobs never materialized and others migrated to other states as she turned to her first presidential run -- data shows that upstate actually lost jobs during Clinton’s first term."

Gov. Andrew Cuomo also jumped into the fray this week, defending the effectiveness of his own economic development programs upstate after nearly six years in office. He's now preparing for an expected campaign for a third term in 2018, and the state's economy will be one of the issues he will have to run on.

At a stop in western New York, Cuomo blamed Albany for the problems bedeviling upstate. "Frankly, the New York State Legislature should look long and hard in the mirror about what they did to upstate New York," he said this week, saying lawmakers raised taxes and burdened businesses and residents.

Cuomo singled out Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, a political rival and former legislator who has issued a series of critical audits of Cuomo's programs in recent months. "He's dead wrong and should educate himself in that area," Cuomo told reporters.

"The comptroller was in the legislature and sat in that Assembly, as did members of the Western New York delegation, where New York and Upstate and Buffalo hemorrhaged jobs," Cuomo said. "We had 30 or 40 years when there were jobs that were leaving Buffalo on a daily basis … and all they did was make it worse by continuing to raise taxes."

Not mentioned by Cuomo was his father, Gov. Mario Cuomo, whose 1983-1994 tenure was marked by a series of massive annual tax increases and one shots nicknamed the "Big Ugly." Business groups at the time said Cuomo was driving companies and residents out of the state.

Mario Cuomo was also known for budget gimmicks that damaged the state's reputation in business circles, such as trying to "sell" the DOCCS Attica prison to a public authority to raise cash and saddling the state Thruway Authority with the cost of the maintaining the state's unused canal system.

Mario Cuomo served during a tumultuous time for the state, which saw the arrival of the Internet and new technologies and the lowering of international trade barriers that decimated industries that had operated here profitably for decades.

His son took office at another tumultuous time, following four years when the state was led by tag team governors Eliot Spitzer and David Paterson. Since 2011, Andrew Cuomo has made reviving the state's economy and finances a top priority as governor, enacting a first-ever property tax cap and earmarking billions in state resources to economic development projects across the upstate region.

He also campaigned twice on a promise to revive the state's private sector and create new jobs.

But much of the state north of New York City has continued to struggle. Job growth has been virtually flat for the state as a whole.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, New York had a labor force of 9.5 million people in January 2006, with 9 million workers employed. As of June 2016, the state has 9.7 million in the labor force, with 9.2 million holding jobs.

Compare that to Texas, with a labor force of 11.2 million, and 10.1 million employed in January 2006. In 2016, the numbers have risen to 13.3 million in the labor force and 12.7 million employed.

In other words, Texas's job growth totaled 26 percent in the past 10 years compared to 2 percent in New York.

In North Carolina, a much smaller state Cuomo has declared political war on over the transgender bathroom rights issue, the state had 4.4 million in the labor force in 2006, with 4.2 million employed. By 2016, the numbers have risen to 4.9 million and 4.6 million respectively. That translates to 10 percent job growth.