IF YOU WANT TO UNDERSTAND ANDREW CUOMO
If you want to understand Andrew Cuomo, you have to know two basic facts about his quest for the fourth term that he told me he was going to seek. The first truth is that he loved and honored his late father, Mario. You’ll recall that Mario Cuomo was denied a fourth term as governor, probably because his reelection came in 1994, a terrible year for the Democrats. The second fact is that Andrew had not only a love for his father but also a competitive relationship with him. Winning a fourth term would be a way to honor his old man and at the same time, prove to the world that he could do what his father could not.
There are real dangers with trying to win a fourth term. The first is that often people simply get tired and are ready to try something new. It might that is just how Donald Trump won his presidency although that may be argued vigorously, considering the fact that he was whipped by Hillary Clinton in the straight individual vote count by almost three million votes.
Nevertheless, under the rules a win is a win. Unless Andrew loses a primary election, it is doubtful that he could lose in blue state New York. If Donald Trump wins reelection in 2020, it is hard to believe that New York voters will not be ready to dump Trump at any cost. What’s more, Andrew Cuomo will certainly be a candidate for president in 2024 and will be the new hope for Democrats who will rally to his banner. It will be for that reason that Tough Guy Andrew will be one of the few Democrats who can best any Republican in a bid for the highest office in the land.
If, on the other hand, Trump loses in 2020, that will give his Democratic conqueror a potential for eight years in the White House. That will make for tough sledding for Andrew. Andrew will have to do everything in his power to ensure that he will win a fourth term. We already see the outlines of his plan.
First, he will have to raise such a vast amount of money that no one can compete for television, radio and internet time. He is already on his way to doing just that. Practically every time you turn around, you see Andrew raising money. Any excuse, from birthday parties to good old- fashioned fundraisers, will do and the donors will be lining up to buy tickets and offer support. Let there be no mistake — human nature dictates that if you want something from government, you kick in. As Dean Skelos and Shelly Silver have shown us, anyone who is playing this particular fundraising game had better be very careful not to do anything that a jury might construe was designed as a quid pro quo arrangement. I suspect that Andrew is way too smart for that. He will be very careful about that although several of his former aides, headed by Joe Percoco and Todd Howe, did take a major fall after they got greedy.
The second way Cuomo will come out victorious is to make sure that folks like Working Families Party will not run anyone against him in a primary as they have in the past. You do that by changing the rules so that the WFP will not qualify for ballot access. It looks like Cuomo and his henchman, Jay Jacobs, are doing exactly that. When you ask why this is necessary, you see that Andrew just doesn’t want the WFP to do to him what they did last time and run someone against him.
Of course, he may not run but he sure can’t say that. There is always a host of other possibilities like U.S. Attorney General or Secretary of State. Hey, you never know.
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].