Andrew Cuomo might be looking forward to running for President in 2020 but it’s looking increasingly likely that he’ll have to brave a challenging re-election campaign first.
Over the weekend, Common Sense NYS, a new organization connected to the 2010 Republican candidate for State Comptroller, Harry Wilson, released this video blaming Cuomo for the MTA’s problems.
In May, Wilson spoke to Queens Republicans, arguing that he’s the kind of Republican who can win in New York. In his telling, a candidate who focused on jobs and corruption could beat Cuomo and remake Albany.
Wilson heavily plays on his Wall Street experience as well as his involvement on the team that turned around General Motors as part of the 2009 auto industry bailout. As he put it: “New York state government looks a lot like a General Motors or a lot of other failed corporations I have seen over the course of my career.”
He’s said he’ll decide whether to run this fall. However, Wilson might not be the only Republican running.
Who else might run?
- Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, faces his own re-election fight this year against State Senator George Latimer, is also looking at a rematch with Gov. Andrew Cuomo after losing in 2014.
- Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro has stood out recently with his criticism of Gov. Cuomo’s handling of the MTA.
- 2010 Republican candidate Carl Paladino has expressed interest. He’s known for his outlandish, offensive statements and is fighting an attempt to remove him from the Buffalo School Board. After the November Presidential Election, Paladino said that Trump would support him, though Trump might be a hindrance to his campaign in the general election.
- Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (Nassau County) may also be interested in running for Governor and escaping from the drama of the State Senate. However, the Senate lulu payroll scandal and his perceived moderation could hinder his chances in a Republican primary.
Adding to the headache this week for Gov. Cuomo, his 2014 primary challenger Zephyr Teachout predicted that he would face a candidate running from the left. However, Teachout, who was just added to the State Democratic Committee that oversees the state party, said she wouldn’t run.
There’s certainly a lot progressive Democrats are angry about. They blame him for working with the Independent Democratic Conference to give Republicans control of the State Senate. He’s seen as insufficiently progressive on the minimum wage, healthcare, and education (the Excelsior free college plan is seen as too bureaucratic and not helpful to low-income students). Transit advocates also blast Cuomo for caring about new roads and bridges and not doing enough to maintain the subways.
In 2014, the Working Families Party (a good proxy for the left-wing of the Democratic Party) only narrowly endorsed him. Teachout mounted an unexpectedly strong campaign, despite starting her campaign only a few months before the primary.
But defeating Cuomo requires a candidate. So who would run?
That’s unclear. No one is exactly well-positioned to run and it would certainly be an uphill challenge. So who could?
- Former State Senator Terry Gipson (Rhinebeck in the Hudson Valley) is exploring a run.
- Zephyr Teachout could still run again. She’s popular with progressive activists but lost her campaign for Congress last year and has never held elective office.
- Tim Wu, Teachout’s 2014 running mate (as candidate for Lieutenant Governor), might be interested.
- Preet Bharara, the US Attorney fired by Trump, would be a popular candidate. However, he’s disclaimed interest.
- Attorney General Eric Schneiderman could mount possibly the strongest challenge to Cuomo but he’d have to give up his safe position as Attorney General for a race he might lose.
- Polls have asked about Mayor Bill de Blasio running but that’s seen as unlikely.
- The most intriguing possibility is Queens State Senator Michael Gianaris. The number two Democratic in the Senate, he’s widely praised as a progressive leader and could be willing to give up a Senate seat in order to have a chance at something much bigger.
How Real is This?
Cuomo’s approval ratings have been slipping with just 46% of voters statewide saying they have a positive view of him. With over a year until the election, there’s a lot of time for Cuomo to repair his image or for it to slide further.
Among Democrats, however, the Governor still maintains a 64% approval rating. Though some pundits see him as vulnerable in a Democratic primary, that’s a significant climb for a progressive challenger.
Either way, though, Cuomo has a massive war chest and will have a strong campaign. Look for Cuomo to seek to rebuild bridges and curry support in preparation for a heated campaign next year.