Cynthia Nixon vs Andrew Cuomo
In an era in American history where people can run for elective office without any prior experience to serve that office, it makes absolute sense for a bright, informed, involved, committed activist with absolutely no experience at running anything – a business, an office, anything – to run for Governor of New York.
The fact that she happens to be an actress is actually a plus: Like the actor in a pharmaceutical ad telling us that he is not a doctor…he just plays one on TV.
Cynthia Nixon can play at being a Governor with no chance of becoming a Governor and it’s OK. The media will take her Cuomo-negative pronouncements seriously, never really ask her questions about governance or what policy changes we can expect her to make; she won’t offer anything but generalities and it will sound like a primary campaign.
She looks wonderful…is bright…has had a successful, serious career, even if she is best known for a light little cable TV series “Sex and the City” and three movies that followed. The role didn’t stress her talent and made her some good money. She is clearly determined to be taken seriously as a candidate and is very often on-target in her denunciation of Cuomo in many different areas.
Four years ago another determined woman with excellent speaking skills – this time a Professor at Fordham Law School – made a similar run in a primary against Governor Cuomo, had the quiet but supportive backing of the labor party, the Working Families
Party, and actually got 34% of the primary vote – which surprised people but otherwise meant nothing.
So here we go again. With the backing of Bill DeBlasio, his wife, Charlane McCray and quietly again, the Working Families Party – here comes Cynthia. Let’s sit back and let her entertain us for a few months. There is a game going on here and before looking at the real problems in NY that the Governor hasn’t dealt with, the failures and successes of this two-time administration, let’s enjoy the game. It is one guaranteed to keep everything as-is and firmly in place, even though there will be a lot of words and gestures that suggest otherwise.
There are few politicians in New York State or in any other State in America with more potential for greatness than Andrew M. Cuomo. The son of a Queens attorney who made a serious attempt to play professional baseball before turning to law, Mario Cuomo went on to become a three-time Governor of New York, a noted speaker and a man who many thought would run for the Presidency as an unparalleled liberal voice. Andrew Cuomo grew up at his side, walking and talking politics.
As he grew he became more than an eager son working to please his Dad; he became a chief counselor and adviser and a man often sent on difficult political missions with the power of his Dad behind him.
We say with complete sincerity that Andrew Cuomo had all the ‘goods’, the political smarts, toughness, guile and experience to become the greatest Governor in New York’s history.
Sadly for the people who recognize these abilities, Andrew had something else in mind: the ways and means of ultimate power over the Democratic Party, the State Legislature and all other manageable factors. His ambition, built on the age-old desire to best his Dad, was to build a base so that he could to run for the Presidency.
The voting public looked to him to remake New York as the Empire State and end the horrific pay to play corruption which had gone on for decades and which put more New York lawmakers in jail than any other State. He promised to make that his Number One priority. Instead he used his abilities and the public trust to take advantage of the corruption around him to build his ultimate power base.
When the Republican head of the State Senate and the Democratic head of the State Assembly were convicted of various forms of bribery and sentenced to jail time, Cuomo put forth some obviously weak ethics rules that were quickly adopted and forgotten.
The corruption never ends as he found out several weeks ago, when the Cuomo family friend – “My father’s third son” Joseph Percoco was found guilty on three counts of bribery (how close to you can it get, Andrew?) Nothing was said or done by the Governor but for a brief statement of sadness for Percoco’s children and then utter dismissal. (Percoco once promised us ‘hardball’ from the Governor and now he knows how it feels.)
Why is all of this important…more important than any other element in State government?
Because corruption at the base of a State’s political core always means that the people will NEVER be sure about what is legitimate and what is a payoff when taxes are expended for a whole series of basic needs.
For instance tens of billions of dollars were being spent fixing the roadbed of the busy Tappan Zee Bridge when the bridgework stopped three-quarters complete and a new bridge was suddenly approved supported by a large Federal loan. The bridge was built very quickly and named the Mario Cuomo Bridge. Was it genuinely necessary? Couldn’t a significant amount of Federal money be used for commuter rail and subway maintenance?
We will never know.
New York gets what Andrew Cuomo wants.
If Andrew Cuomo wants genuine control of the entire State Legislature he prefers that the Democratic Assembly be offset by a Republican Senate. When the slow disintegration of the Republican Party in New York made it apparent that the State Senate was finally going to be controlled by Democrats, the Independent Democratic Conference was strengthened with Cuomo’s help so that the eight Democratic members could – and do – vote with the Republicans on most bills Andrew Cuomo wants or doesn’t want.
With the State Senate in his pocket, Cuomo can ignore the will of the essentially liberal State Assembly if they disagree with his policy decisions.
Finally, we look at the opponents the Republican Party finds to run against the Governor: For the third time a white Italian-Catholic male: Faso, Astorino and now Molinaro of Duchess County. Is there any reality in these choices? Yes, if a political party desired to lose an election, these would be their choices.
The quid pro quo, of which Cuomo is a dominant master, always works in politics as it so often does in life. He maintains the Republican strength in the State Legislature and in return he faces the worst possible candidates in his reelection bids.
So that’s the game Cynthia.
The Working Families Party will quietly help you in the Democratic primary race while openly disavowing that support. When you lose the primary to a man who totally controls the Democratic Party in NY, they will support the Governor again. It won’t matter. He doesn’t need them. He just doesn’t want their voice to interfere with his.
We’re going to give you another week or two to talk about the issues you see as important and then comment on them and how they fit into a reasonable or less attempt to define what should be done to make things better.
Here is what you will not hear from anyone close to you: if you were a person prepared to be a Governor and run a statewide administration, running in a primary against the King in his own Democratic Party castle is fool’s play. What you should be doing instead was run an independent campaign in the General Election hoping that moderate Republicans in NY State would clearly vote for you rather than a Cuomo or a pretender in the Republican Party. In that case you might do more than surprise people.
But you are not prepared to be a Governor, so fire away Cynthia and entertain us. Given the state of politics in America, it will be nice to hear your beautifully modulated intelligent voice.