Ted Cruz Is Right About "New York Values"

by Kastalia Medrano

Everything is bigger in Texas — including the egos. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz doubled down on previously made comments about rival Donald Trump’s "New York values" — less than two weeks before the state's primary. In an interview that aired Thursday on ABC's Good Morning America, Cruz said that "New York values" are liberal values and that they are essentially destroying the state. At an event on Wednesday, Cruz made near-identical comments.

Cruz is right — New York values do tend to be liberal values, which is a big part of why he’s probably not going to win New York later this month. Consider recent examples of successful New York Republicans. There's former New York governor and erstwhile GOP candidate George Pataki, who's to the left of GOP peers on many critical issues. Pataki is pro-choice (he does think abortion should be banned after 20 weeks) and has supported marriage equality. He served three-terms as governor of the Empire State, so yeah, those "New York values" served him well with voters.

Another one-time Republican presidential candidate, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani was also a centrist on many issues. "I oppose abortion," Giuliani said while campaigning for the 2008 Republican nomination, “but I believe that ultimately the government should leave that decision to a woman and her conscience." Giuliani was also in favor of at least some gun control measures.

However, Giuliani doesn't come close to another former mayor of New York City and almost-candidate for president Michael Bloomberg when it comes to gun control. To be fair, Bloomberg officially dropped any formal party affiliation mid-way through his career, but he got his start in politics as a Republican. The billionaire has devoted massive amounts of time and money to pushing gun control measure and taking on the NRA. Also, he's relatively liberal on other topics, as well. In 2011, Bloomberg officiated the first same-sex wedding in New York's City Hall. He came out in favor of marriage equality in 2009, years before Hillary Clinton did.

New York — especially New York City — likes its Republicans to lean left. Donald Trump is no one’s liberal dreamboat, but Cruz is arguably even more conservative. The Texas senator is so far off to the right that he'll basically look like a little speck in the distance at this point to many New York Republicans. Yet, Cruz showed no sign of wanting to back away from his "New York Values" the comments.

“You know, when I talked about New York values it was interesting. Just a minute ago, I was meeting with a significant number of Hispanic pastors [and] African American pastors here in the Bronx,” Cruz said at an event on Wednesday. “And one of those pastors, Sen. Rubin Diaz, who was a Democratic state senator who hosted the gathering, said, 'I know exactly what you mean by ‘New York values.’ We fight them every day in our community, we fight them.'"

It’s not quite clear, as Cruz continued, whether he was still quoting the senator or running under his own steam. Cruz went on to say that "New York values" are what led Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio to shut down charter schools:

Upon getting elected mayor, one of the first things he [de Blasio] did was to try to shut down charter schools in Harlem. Because he is captive to the union bosses who control him, one of his first actions was to try to throw young African American and Hispanic out of the schools that were giving them hope and giving them a lifeline.

Cruz proceeded to say the values of liberal politicians have been “hammering” New Yorkers for a long time.

There's also another somewhat disconcerting aspect of Cruz's "New York values" comment: Some have alleged that the "New York values" remark was anti-Semitic — and I'd say Cruz hasn’t spent much time fighting that impression. Dana Milbank at the Washington Post called the remark (combined with Cruz's separate use of Yiddish word chutzpah) an "anti-Semitic dog whistle." But instead of backing off his "New York values" jab, Cruz is digging in his heels — and I think it will only hurt him.

Doubling down on "New York values" may appeal to his base in Texas, but it certainly won’t do him any favors in the Empire State come April 19.