NEW YORK — Andrew Cuomo, the elder son of former Gov. Mario M. Cuomo, turned his back on the Democratic Party's state convention Wednesday and vowed to take his gubernatorial campaign to the streets.
Cuomo said he would circulate petitions to force a Sept. 10 gubernatorial primary against state Comptroller H. Carl McCall.
"I want to be the candidate placed on the ballot by the people, not the party," Cuomo told several hundred cheering supporters.
McCall supporters scoffed.
"He lost, so he cut and ran," party activist Sarah Kovner said.
A top Cuomo supporter, Steven Pigeon, said one reason to announce the move as the two-day convention opened was to steal the thunder from McCall, whose troops said he had more than 60% of the delegates' votes.
But Pigeon also said: "Primaries are won in the streets. Why not start your campaign in the street instead of in a smoky convention hall?"
Cuomo and McCall are locked in a tight battle for the Democratic nomination to take on Republican Gov. George Pataki.
Although Cuomo said he had more than the 25% of the delegate votes needed for an automatic spot on the ballot, he prefers to mount a grass-roots campaign.
The delegates were treated to a keynote address by James Carville, the Louisiana-bred political guru who helped put Bill Clinton in the White House. Sporting sunglasses, rolled-up shirt sleeves and a loosened tie, the "Ragin' Cajun" lit into Pataki.
"My friends, he has accumulated a record not to run on, but a record to run from," Carville roared to cheers from about 1,000 Democrats. Cuomo contended that he was releasing his delegates to support McCall. "I want to congratulate Carl McCall," Cuomo said. "He will earn the support of the party's establishment. He deserves it."
Cuomo must collect the signatures of at least 15,000 party members statewide to get on the primary ballot without the convention votes.