By Former Assemblyman Steven Sanders
Barring some weird and unforeseen event (which this year is not out of the question!), Hillary Clinton is headed for the Democratic Party nomination for President of the United States.
However, there is one prominent Democratic Party Governor who while publicly supporting Mrs. Clinton is privately rooting for her to lose. That would be our very own Andrew Cuomo. Mr. Cuomo is a man of considerable political skill and unlimited ambition. Now at age 57 he knows better than most that the election of a Democrat as President in 2016 would virtually dash any hopes that he has to run for President before 2024 and by then he will be eligible for Medicare and it is likely that his political star will have eclipsed.
In many respects, the younger Cuomo has more political drive than his iconic father Mario… but not nearly as much of his dad’s authenticity, charm or eloquence. Andrew relies on calculation and raw political maneuvering to propel his reputation and prospects. And with a political season this year that has had more twists and turns than a James Patterson novel, Andrew Cuomo is trying to figure out how to stay ahead of the political winds of change. He wants desperately to run for President and just as desperately wants out of the mire of Albany politics. So he is angling in every way possible to remain relevant in national politics.
Two years ago he ran for re-election as a tough minded fiscal conservative eschewing any tax increases whatsoever, and in fact capping local property taxes no matter what the consequences might be to municipalities or school districts faced with rising costs mostly beyond their control. This year as he watched the populist rise of Bernie Sanders he has swerved to the left loudly supporting a rise in the minimum wage to $15 which he ridiculed as “undoable” just a year ago. And he has embraced other hot button liberal issues as well. All the while stealing the thunder from his more liberal foil Mayor Bill de Blasio.
It is not that I think that Andrew Cuomo is wrong on those issues; it is just difficult to keep up with his agenda. It is like a road map that zig zags across the terrain. I do not question his positions as much as his motives. It has an air of expedience, even hypocrisy. While promoting public campaign financing for elections in New York and to rid the system of oversized contributions, he nonetheless has raised more big money from wealthy donors and special interests that any candidate or sitting governor in the history of the state. Once an avid supporter of Common Core education standards, he has since backed away. He dithered for four years on fracking until after he was safely re-elected. He claims to want to elect a Democratic Party majority in the State Senate but works behind the scenes to maintain the Republicans in power to keep the liberal Democrats in the State Assembly at bay. Who says you can’t have it both ways?
So when Andrew Cuomo stumps for Hillary Clinton in the fall, as he will to score points with the Party faithful. (Check to see if his fingers are crossed behind his back.) If Mrs. Clinton loses, look for Andrew Cuomo to not run for re-election again in 2018. No, he will have his travel log set for places like Iowa, New Hampshire, Illinois and Florida. Should Cuomo not run again that will set off a domino effect in Albany for the statewide offices of Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General and maybe even Comptroller.
And if the deck does get reshuffled while Cuomo is trolling for national votes in the Midwest keep your eye on a couple of local political stars from our very own backyard such as State Senator Brad Hoylman and term limited Councilman Dan Garodnick. These are both individuals who could have a statewide future.
And while there is still a Presidential election to be decided this year, remember as Tip O’Neill famously observed, “All politics is local!”