By Alan S. Chartock | August 25, 2018

Let’s play “Put Yourself in Andrew’s Place.” You’re way out in front. All the polls say that you are politically slaughtering Cynthia Nixon in the primary and Mark Molinaro in the general election. Yet there is this nagging feeling that what happened to Joe Crowley when he improbably lost to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez could happen to you.

Cuomo the younger knows that what happened to his father in his fourth attempt to get to the Second Floor could happen to him. Trust me, I know what I’m talking about here. So Andrew has political decisions to make. All his encouraging polls so far are pre-Labor Day which is when the real political action begins. Now he is getting a taste of things to come. Molinaro’s ads are coming out and they are really devastating.

Cuomo is running against Donald Trump. He knows that the man is deservedly despised in New York. So Cuomo sees his target: Trump. Cuomo has an anti-Trump base and so it is going to be all Trump, all the time. Cuomo knows that he himself has big trouble when it comes to corruption charges. We all know that when he took on the governorship he said that he would clean up Albany. He has failed at that so momentously that the original assertions were a joke. Some of his top people have been proven corrupt and are on their way to jail. Molinaro’s people are running ads that are crushingly effective. They are so good because they are true.

You really can’t get around the fact his top advisors, people he should have been controlling, saw state government as a candy store. People ask me all the time, “How could he have not known what they were up to?” At very least, he proved himself a terrible administrator. It didn’t stop there. His greatest friend mistake was showing off about his war on corruption by establishing a Moreland Act Commission and appointing good honest people to it. He did it with the blessing and hands on agreement of then Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman (remember him?), who stood by helplessly when Cuomo shut down the crime fighting Commission just as it was approaching the motherlode of dirty dealing. Cuomo made it plain that he could do anything he wanted because he said that it was his Commission. So between his corrupt top people and Moreland, there’s a lot he needs people to forget. And that, he is doing.

Like Santa Claus, he is running around New York State giving away the store. That technique is as old as the hills and certainly works but it really isn’t enough. The really big strategy is moving left as fast as he can. He had to counter Cynthia Nixon and he has done that big time. He is also sending out the word that has experience and that she does not. Yes that’s true BUT his big problem is that his experience includes doing it the good old fashioned, morally corrupt way. I mean, why do you think all those contributors give you big money? They do it because they want something back and the slew of corruption trials that we are seeing prove that point big time.

So far, the Cuomo strategy is working. But there are new, often younger and more diverse, people coming on the scene. Cuomo long ago made his peace with the labor leaders but the people in their unions have shown some real resistance to him. They remember his anti-labor positions. Plus there are a slew of young voters who may make a difference as they did with the Ocasio-Cortez election. Polling is always based on the way voters have behaved in the past. Andrew’s move to the left is brilliant and seems to be working. My bet is that he is scared and that makes him an even more dangerous and formidable opponent.

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]