CUOMO DOESN’T SMELL SO GOOD AND NEITHER DOES DE BLASIO
A lot is going on in New York electoral politics. The big bombshell last week was that the New York Working Families Party (WFP) endorsed Cynthia Nixon, one of the stars of Sex and the City. The Cuomo operatives have been out in force suggesting that unlike Cuomo, Nixon has no real political experience. Even some seasoned journalists have fallen for that one. Forget about the fact that Nixon has worked hard on substantive issues like education and political reform. But what really gets me about the lack of experience claim is that the experienced governor chose to surround himself with accused felons, closed down his own Moreland Act Commission which really had the potential to root out corruption, and waited for what seemed like forever to get the turncoat Independent Democratic Conference back where they belonged. If that is what experience buys you, I’d just ask, “So who needs experience?”
The Working Families Party had some guts. Last time out, none other than Mayor Bill de Blasio saved Cuomo’s hash with the IDC. This time he didn’t. In this fight Cuomo doesn’t smell so good and neither does de Blasio who has significant ethics problems.
The WFP also endorsed New York City Councilman Jumaane Williams for lieutenant governor. Electorally, intentionally or not, that is a brilliant stroke. There is an old, unbreakable rule that when it comes to Democratic primaries, you have a much better chance of winning if you come from New York City, where the most Democrats reside, rather than upstate New York where the Republicans often reign supreme. Not only that, Williams is black and if there is one group that Nixon has to make inroads with, it is the black community. Kathy Hochul, the current lieutenant governor, is a very accomplished and bright candidate and I have every reason to believe that even the very pragmatic Cuomo will not drop her from his ticket in order to take on an African-American running mate. So, this is a golden opportunity for Nixon to make a point to voters of color that she is walking the walk.
As usual, the hard fighting Cuomo is working his tail off to put a stop to the mutiny in his ranks. He worked like hell to get the Working Families designation and when he couldn’t get it, his union allies said that they might set up a separate party to draw off progressive labor votes from Nixon, the Working Families candidate. Not only that, it was clear that the labor money that had been extraordinarily helpful to the Working Families Party in the past would dry up.
Not that Andrew would listen to me, but I think that he has made a major error. He should have just stayed shut and left Nixon and the Working Families group alone. Instead, he made them look like the big time underdogs they are and reminded people that he can look like a bully. If you add it all up, Cuomo loses this round big time. Not good for a prospective Democratic presidential candidate.
All the polls have Andrew way ahead. He should just ignore Nixon but his psychological make up will not allow him to. New York’s Democrats include a lot of centrists who eschew many of the progressive positions of Nixon and the Working Families Party. It would take an awful lot to turn this primary around. The more Cuomo and his allies fight with Nixon and remind voters who she is, the better it will be for her. It is a central tenet of Jiu-Jitsu that you use your opponent’s weight to work for you.
The more that Andrew appears to be a bellicose, vindictive and mean candidate, the better Nixon will do. When the smoke clears, she will have bloodied Andrew. Winning, of course, is a whole others thing.
Alan Chartock is professor emeritus at the State University of New York, publisher of the Legislative Gazette and president and CEO of the WAMC Northeast Public Radio Network. Readers can email him at [email protected]