By Alan S. Chartock | September 22, 2018

So it’s over.

The primary happened on an unusual Thursday and Andrew Cuomo was the big winner. The Cuomo name is still magic, particularly in New York City where people know very little about what happens in state government.

Cuomo’s closest aides are on their way to prison for grafting. His administration is being accused on several fronts of “pay to play” with the result that Cuomo has amassed a mighty war chest. No matter what bad things happened around Cuomo, he maintained that he knew nothing. There was hell to pay when a scurrilous letter was sent out on the eve of the election, claiming that his opponent, Cynthia Nixon, was an anti-Semite. The truth is that Nixon is raising her children Jewish and regularly goes to synagogue herself. It fell upon one of Cuomo’s top guys, the hapless Larry Schwartz, to take the blame and incredibly, while he admitted that it was his job to review outgoing mailers, he said he forgot to turn over the letter. If anyone remembers anything about this campaign, it will be Schwartz’s disclaimer about having forgotten to turn the letter over. Of course, Cuomo couldn’t be tied to the offensive letter.

So despite the corruption in his administration (he swore he would clean up Albany) the bad actions of his campaign aides and the pay to play method of collecting campaign money, Cuomo sailed to an overwhelming victory. While he moved left under attack from Nixon, he began to tack right again once he won the election. He said, for example, that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s victory over party regular Joe Crowley was a fluke. He said during the run up to the election that he would serve four years and invited God to strike him dead if he broke his word. Nevertheless, as soon as he won, his sycophants began to tout his route to the White House. If I were him, I’d begin to get worried when I heard thunder or saw lightning.

Along his way to victory and that of the rest of his team — Tish James for Attorney General and Kathy Hochul for Lieutenant Governor — some interesting things happened. For example early on, Cuomo reportedly tried to get his number two, Hochul to run for Congress up in Niagara County. To put it another way, he tried to push her overboard because as the Shogun, once reportedly said to his son, “You are inconvenient to me now.” To her credit, Hochul said “nuts” to her leader’s command even though in one of the great ironies, she would have probably beaten Republican Chris Collins who is presently under indictment for insider trading.

In the race for Attorney General, more shenanigans helped Tish James, Cuomo’s pick, win her spot. Sean Patrick Maloney’s presence in the race clearly cost Zephyr Teachout the election. Since Maloney and Cuomo are thought to be close (Maloney has never said a bad word about Cuomo to me in our many radio interviews) there are those unkind souls who sensed some conspiracy in Maloney’s entering the race. Sounds a little farfetched but hey, you never know. The last thing Cuomo needed was a critical attorney general looking over his shoulder, a role for which Teachout, who writes about corruption, would have been ideal. For her part, we hear that the winner, Tish James, didn’t take the Working Families Party designation because Cuomo told her not to, so angry was he that the upstart political party gave their gubernatorial nomination to Nixon. Of course, Maloney has to go back to run for Congress again and some of his constituents may not be happy that he deserted them to run for AG while also preserving his Congressional seat. If it turns out that the Democrats needed one more vote to flip the house and Maloney loses his seat, he will be considered the goat of the game.

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].