CHARTOCK: CUOMO VS. MOLINARO IS GETTING HOT…
Cuomo versus Molinaro. Getting hot.
Cuomo always knew that running for a third term would be difficult. He learned that from his work with his father, Mario, who eventually ran out of steam. Andrew has many advantages in his battle with Mark Molinaro. He has collected tons of money, a good deal of it from people who want something back. The recent trials of Alain Kaloyeros and Joe Percoco and the guilty pleas of Todd Howe proved to all of us how the system works. It’s a lot like chicken soup. If you want something from the government, it sure doesn’t hurt to put something into the pot.
It has always worked that way. Cuomo is surrounded by shark-like people who might be thought of as old-fashioned “collectors.” Come on! Not to understand how the system works is a study in naïveté. As the incumbent, Cuomo and his people have been giving out the goodies for quite some time now. As long as the people don’t object and as long as the system keeps working for Cuomo, he’ll keep doing what he’s been doing so successfully. This will undoubtedly be his last time at bat in the governorship game so if he can get though it this time around, he can retire with a thousand percent batting average.
Cuomo’s competition this time is Mark Molinaro, a nice guy who is undoubtedly the best that the Republicans have to offer. His biggest problem is that he is a Republican and that is not a good thing in Blue State New York. After all, he is in the party of Trump and if there is a dirty word in New York State, particularly in the five boroughs, it is that very word, “Trump.” So Cuomo is running against Trump.
The game plan is to forget about Molinaro. This is the exact game plan that Papa Mario employed when he was running against Andrew O’Rourke. He ignored that Westchester opponent and that really paid off. He trounced the guy. Andrew Cuomo will play the same game. He is running his gubernatorial campaign against Donald Trump. Period. The end.
For his part, Molinaro and the brilliant Republican Party Chairman, Ed Cox, will correctly connect the various corruptive dots that Cuomo has to deal with in this campaign. The list is exhaustive. He will remind people of the failed Moreland Act Commission that Cuomo first announced and then killed after it looked like the Commission was on the right trail. Then there was the aforementioned Percoco on his search for “Ziti.” Percoco, who we are all sick of hearing about and being reminded of, was the “Third Cuomo brother.” So far, that hasn’t worked. It sure didn’t in Cynthia Nixon’s campaign against Cuomo. Cuomo, who ought to know about this stuff, is accusing Molinaro of corruption because Molinaro’s wife has a low level job with a business that had contracts with Westchester County. Molinaro is raising all the Cuomo corruption issues. It’s sort of like comparing an ant and a dinosaur, so great is the difference.
Of course, as long as New York hates Trump the way it does and as long as Molinaro continues to stay relatively shut about Trump, he doesn’t really stand a chance unless Molinaro gets smart and makes it clear that he has no use for Trump. If he doesn’t do that, he’s a goner. Governor Charlie Baker of Blue State Massachusetts has that formula figured out and he has one of the highest popularity ratings in Massachusetts’ history. If Molinaro wants to win he had just better follow Baker’s lead.
Molinaro has set up a website where people can “tell on” Cuomo, who is extraordinarily popular in New York City where folks have no real clue about what’s going on in state politics. He has that magic Cuomo name which will continue to carry him over the top.
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]