Now Comes The Big Primary
I have become a huge Letitia James fan. She doesn’t let anyone push her around. She keeps her own counsel and she has done phenomenal work as New York State Attorney General.
She has gone after all the Donald Trump nonsense and for that alone we owe her. In New York, the AG in Attorney General can also refer to “almost governor.” That’s how both Eliot Spitzer and Andrew Cuomo came to ascend to the prized governorship.
It’s all kind of funny because Cuomo chose Kathy Hochul to be his lieutenant governor. He clearly did that because she came from the upstate Niagara/Erie County region. Historically, we elect our governors from the downstate New York City environs, but because of the way things have worked out, with Cuomo having resigned in disgrace, his lieutenant was called on to take command.
Don’t think for a minute that Cuomo would have envisioned Hochul’s accession to his job. For most of his tenure, he was convinced that he would get the fourth term that his own father was denied. Not only that, stories abound concerning the argument that Andrew Cuomo had with Hochul when he told her he didn’t want her to run with him in the last election. Rumor has it that she stood up to him and said that she would not accept dismissal.
One can reasonably assume that the always shrewd Cuomo wanted to replace Hochul with someone of color. Indeed, when Hochul had to name her own lieutenant governor, she chose a Black man to be her number two. For his part, Cuomo, who has been known to be vindictive, saved all his public anger for Letitia James. After all, it was James and her integrity that “done him in.” Hochul has not been any too kind to Cuomo, seemingly wanting to have it both ways. She makes it quite clear that she has no great love for Andrew, but Cuomo reserves his fire for the Attorney General who had the courage to tell the truth about Cuomo.
So now comes the big primary. A lot of people are lining up to enter the contest. James and Hochul are only two of them. We are talking about a LOT of potential contestants. They will all pile in but the one you really have to keep your eye on is Cuomo himself. Make no mistake about it — Cuomo still has a lot of admirers. I hear from some of them on a regular basis and in a five, six, or seven-way contest, almost anything could happen. Despite the state wide polling which shows Cuomo underwater with the voters, he only has to get more votes than the others. I can just read his mind on this one.
One thing is absolutely for sure and that is that the “establishment” wants Hochul. That may turn out to be quite dangerous for the present governor. The word is out that the “in crowd” will do anything to make sure that she wins. This group includes established Republican types who sure aren’t happy with the GOP candidate, Lee Zeldin, for the top job. Zeldin is a Trumper of the first order. As the election grows nearer, there will be lots of stories about who the real Hochul backers are in very Blue state New York and that recognition could turn out to be the kiss of death for Hochul’s campaign.
I have been hearing from some Hochul supporters who are not happy about my predictions that state Attorney General Letitia James is the one who could end up picking up the marbles. When I ask a whole host of New York State politicians whether they are ready to endorse Hochul, I have gotten some advice to hold my horses.
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]