How would YOU like to be governor of New York right now? 

By Alan S. Chartock | January 1, 2021


How would YOU like to be governor of New York right now?

This may be the toughest time in history to have that top job. Let me count the ways.

To begin with, and there is no question about this, we have the worst president in the history of this country. He is a bigot. He opposes giving resources to the country’s most populous states. As a result, New York is deeply in debt, something that is not allowed. That’s a lot for a governor to put up with.

Cuomo is a political moderate. He does not like the idea of raising taxes but more and more, it looks like his progressive colleagues in the legislature will have their way and will raise taxes on the rich. Cuomo may have to eat that.

For now, Cuomo is depending on his friend, Joe Biden, to help the big blue states like New York. But when Biden takes over, he will have the usual myth of the Democratic super-spender attached to him. He may also have a Republican United States Senate to negotiate with. That hypocritical Senate GOP will go back to its old way of playing the frugal uncle.

So Cuomo is caught between a rock and a hard place. He is faced with the unenviable task of cutting back services in New York. The word “services” hardly does justice to things like schools, teachers, subways and getting the human criminal rats and real rats off the streets where they prey on people. How would you like to have teachers’ unions and the professors and the sanitation people, not to mention the police, on you?

Cuomo is also caught in the matter of the census which is looking more and more dismal for New York, to the point that we may lose two members of congress, further diminishing our clout in Washington.

It is not surprising that Cuomo has gone on a full-scale attack against the outgoing Trump. In the past, he had to hold his fire to some degree because the feds controlled so many of the resources on which his state depended. Now it is clear that Trump has severe emotional problems and is on his way out. Cuomo must defend the incoming Joe Biden and so he is heaping on the coal.

Of course, Cuomo has made much of his current reputation (still high in the polls) based on his leadership in the fight against COVID-19. While he accepted the leadership role the president defaulted on and made claims of having mitigated the pandemic, it is clear that the worst is yet to come. While New York still looks good compared to California, the situation in New York is still pretty bad.

Then there is upstate. While New York is now very blue, there are areas that have residual “resentments” where the governor is concerned. Many of these folks love their guns and have never forgiven him for his sensible, courageous attempts to bring some sanity to our use of firearms. If you don’t believe me, take a ride across rural New York and count the signs.

Added to this is the trouble that moderate Cuomo will have with the progressives like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the very Democratic two houses of the legislature. He has told me that he’s not worried about the fact that they can override his vetoes – in fact, he made it clear that he has a lot of Democratic friends in both houses who will not override his vetoes.

Let’s face it. This is a tough time in America and New York is the face of America. Let there be no doubt that Cuomo has no real opposition. He’s a tough guy who is not afraid to use his power which is even more considerable now than it was before our current crop of emergencies.

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]