The politics of Andrew Cuomo’s fall

Well, there is nothing like a major political scandal to liven up a quiet summer week.

It was just a few days ago that we were reading about the eleven hour grilling of Governor Andrew Cuomo by investigators working for Attorney General Leticia James.  It is often noted in such matters that the last interview in an investigation is with the prime subject.  The turnaround time from the questioning until the release of the report was quick.

The damning 168 page document literally provides chapter and verse for Cuomo’s transgressions, backed up with great detail.  The Governor’s pre-recorded response to the AG’s report might be considered laughable if the subject wasn’t so serious.  Was the slide show of Cuomo hugging and kissing various people intended to impress us about his warm and loving nature?  The pictures of others included in the montage like Barack Obama and George W. Bush hugging people didn’t play well since it was clear that those men were offering support and compassion for victims of some tragedy.

The 85 page response to the AG by Cuomo’s attorney can be summed up as follows:  Pay no attention to all that testimony in the report.  My client, who is a loving and caring individual, is innocent of all charges.  Cuomo likes to control everything so it seems likely that he was the ghost writer of the response.

Cuomo has dug in and refuses to resign, just as he did when the charges against him were first reported earlier this year.  He asked that the public wait on their judgment until the facts are in.  Now that the facts are in he is questioning the honesty and integrity of the investigators.

For those keeping score at home it should be noted that when Senator Al Franken went through his sexual harassment issues Andrew Cuomo was among those calling for Franken’s resignation.  There were other examples:  think former Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak.

The action now moves to the State Legislature.  The Assembly Judiciary Committee has also been working on their investigation and they are now armed with the AG report to use as necessary.  The Committee is also examining the nursing home and Cuomo book deal matters.

Many people are looking at the parallels between the investigations and impeachments of Donald Trump and the Cuomo scandal.  Both involved the actions, personal and governmental, of arrogant, bullying politicians but the nature of Trump’s offenses had national and international implications while Cuomo’s issues are closer to home.

A major difference in these two disasters is that Trump has a small army of loud mouths (Jordon, Johnson, Gaetz, Gosar, Gohmert, Greene, Graham, etc.) trying to gaslight the public.  Andrew Cuomo has pretty much no one in his corner to defend him.  The entire Democratic Party has abandoned him, including the state party Chairman, Jay Jacobs, who was chosen for the job by Cuomo.  BTW, Matt Gaetz says he is innocent too.

With both Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins calling for his resignation and apparently members of both houses ready to act, the only question is when, not if, Cuomo is gone.  Isn’t it about time that Heastie and Stewart-Cousins had a Barry Goldwater to Richard Nixon type talk with Cuomo to tell him that the votes are there to impeach and convict and that he can save the state and himself a lot of grief by resigning before the entire process plays itself out?

Cuomo knows how the game is played.  When he was AG he ran his own investigation of a governor, David Paterson.  His office initially started the investigation but handed it off to an independent investigator after the matter started to crowd his ambitions to run for governor in 2010.

Cuomo knows how hard ball politics works.  He is a master of that art.  Now it is time for him to see that approach from the other side.

It seems inevitable to most political observers but not to Cuomo that the game is over.  He is losing 20 to 0 in the bottom of the ninth inning.  There is no way to win.  The only question is when the game will end.

Campaign 2022

There will be plenty of time to assess how the race for governor in 2022 is developing but the one thing that is settled is that Andrew Cuomo’s name will not be on the ballot.  In a recent poll just 11 percent of respondents said he should run for re-election.

Current Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, Attorney General Leticia James, and State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli are all obvious potential Democratic candidates for governor.  New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who ran a strong race against Hochul in the 2018 primary for lieutenant governor, is mentioned, as is New York City Mayor Bill deBlasio.  A member of the House of Representatives delegation or a county executive could also step forward.

Here is where campaign treasuries stood as of July 15th:

  • Hochul — $1,704,541 (raised $525,267 in the past 6 months)
  • James — $1,607,364 (raised $1,033,009 in the past 6 months)
  • DiNapoli — $1,171,181 (raised $401,191 in past 6 months)

Hochul has spent the past seven years traveling everywhere in the state, building contacts; the others on the list, not really.  New York State politics is still dominated by New York City and the metro area.

If the race does become competitive, however, it could turn out that the NYC vote is dispersed among two or more candidates from the city, diluting the influence of the city and making upstate turnout, where Hochul would excel, a more important part of the primary vote.

There are too many factors to consider to get a good read on 2022 politics just yet.  But with a primary just about ten months away things will escalate very quickly once the Cuomo issue is finally resolved.

As for the Republicans, Trump acolyte Lee Zeldin is already the presumptive nominee but former county executive Rob Astorino and Trump golf partner Andrew Guiliani say they will run in the primary.  Oh boy!

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