New York City

New York politicians’ biggest flip-flops

How New York politicians ‘evolved’ on pot, guns, immigrants, LGBT rights and homelessness.

two different versions of Andrew Cuomo's face in opposite directions

two different versions of Andrew Cuomo's face in opposite directions Kevin P. Coughlin / Office of the Governor

When Donald Trump was running for president, he promised to build a wall along the country’s southern border – and claimed that Mexico would pay for it. Halfway through his first term, the president now is insisting that Congress pony up the funds to build it. Of course, he’s just one of many New York politicians who have reversed their positions. Here are some of the more noteworthy ways our elected officials have “evolved” – some might say flip-flopped – on the issues.

Andrew Cuomo on recreational marijuana

2017: “It’s a gateway drug, and marijuana leads to other drugs and there’s a lot of proof that that’s true. There’s two sides to the argument. But I, as of this date, I am unconvinced on recreational marijuana.”

2018: “Let’s legalize the adult use of recreational marijuana once and for all.”

Kathy Hochul on driver’s licenses for immigrants

Kathy Hochul facing in opposite directions
Kevin P. Coughlin / Office of Governor
2007: “I do not support the governor’s plan to give driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants. I have a problem with that, ladies and gentlemen.”

2018: “We’ve seen a different climate right now, particularly with what is happening with immigration at a national level and having been in Congress and seen the needs for people to be able to get to jobs, the farmers in upstate New York here who have been clamoring for this, I would say that my position now is different.”


Bill de Blasio on homelessness

Bill de Blasio facing in two different directions
Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography
2015: “Homelessness is not going up, thank God.”

2017: “We too felt we were always playing from behind, that the crisis always seemed to be bearing down on us, the numbers always seemed to be growing.”

Charles Schumer on same-sex marriage

Chuck Schumer facing in opposite direction
RBLFMR, A Katz/Shutterstock
2004: “I believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman. That’s my personal belief. … And so I voted, for instance, for DOMA, which is called the Defense of Marriage Act, which said that one state didn't have to recognize another state.”

2009: “It’s time. Equality is something that has always been a hallmark of America and no group should be deprived of it. New York, which has always been at the forefront on issues of equality, is appropriately poised to take a lead on this issue.”


Kirsten Gillibrand on gun rights

Kirsten Gillibrand facing in two different directions
Lev Radin, Ron Adar/Shutterstock
2009: “If I want to protect my family, if I want to have a weapon in the home, that should be my right.”

2012: “As a mother, and a lawmaker, I will not allow these tragedies, and the roughly 34 gun violence related deaths that happen every day, to go unanswered. We can no longer sweep the conversation about access to guns under the rug, it is time to demand real solutions.”