In one of the most predictable outcomes yet this election cycle, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo won his Thursday primary against actress and leftist Democrat Cynthia Nixon. It took all of half an hour after the polls closed for the AP to call the race, in a result that centrist Democrats and liberals who prioritize experience will find a relief. But it is also a loss for America as a whole, because with Cuomo’s nomination comes his virtually certain re-election, which in turn gives him a platform to run for president in 2020—about the last thing the country needs right now.
Yes, Cuomo said in his one debate that “my only caveat is if God strikes me dead. Otherwise, I will serve four years as governor of the state of New York." If you buy that, I’ve got a bridge with his family name to sell you.
Approaching two years into Donald Trump’s presidency, with Hillary Clinton (a converted New Yorker), Rudy Giuliani, the whole Trump clan, former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, new Congressional star even before arriving in office Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, New York born-and-bred Sen. Bernie Sanders, New York Mayor Bill De Blasio, New York Sens Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer all prominently on the scene, the country is at risk of New York burnout.
Some of us would already like a moratorium on New Yorkers getting anywhere near the White House. But Cuomo’s last name and obvious political ambition mean that a third term will likely subject American to still more of the Empire State’s worst—from both sides of the aisle.
While no Republican, and relatively few Democrats for that matter, actually wanted Nixon as governor—she’s a quasi-Democratic Socialist like Ocasio-Cortez with a weak grasp of policy and zero experience relevant to running a big and complex state—Cuomo in many ways is more worthy of contempt.
Sure, Cuomo has managed two Bs, and one D, on his three CATO Fiscal Report Cards since being elected, so he’s not as liberal on fiscal policy as, say, Hawaii’s governors (a low bar to clear).
But he’s worse than a standard-issue swamp liberal where Second Amendment rights are concerned. Cuomo’s NY Safe Act arguably was so gun-grabby that as originally written, it arguably criminalized police officers. Cuomo’s Department of Financial Services (DFS) is currently locked in litigation with the National Rifle Association—which is being backed up by the American Civil Liberties Union—because New York’s DFS is trying to bully financial institutions into denying the NRA access to the banking system. Cuomo has personally used his bully pulpit (pun fully intended) to coerce financial institutions into severing ties with the NRA—a hardcore activist lefty move, but also a very, very shady and almost certainly unconstitutional one.
He has also embraced teachers’ unions, reversing himself after previously pledging to combat their nefarious influence fighting charter schools and teacher evaluations. This, in a state whose those same unions created “Rubber Rooms” to keep the checks coming to teachers who hadwith no business working in a classroom and where major educational challenges exacerbated by teachers’ unions were exposed in “Waiting for Superman.”
More, Cuomo cuts an extremely ethically-challenged and frankly thuggish profile, which unhelpfully dovetails with stereotypes of New Yorkers enhanced by our current president.
Set aside the last-minute, pre-election shadiness of his party apparatus issuing a mailer tagging Nixon as an anti-Semite that his operation first denied any role in only for it to emerge that one of his former most senior government aides had in fact approved it, while “volunteering” for his campaign. Set aside his last-minute, pre-election “opening” of a bridge that didn’t really open, despite a ceremony just ahead of the primary with Hillary Clinton, because the old bridge it's replacing risks falling into it.
Focus on his administration’s illegal pay-to-play schemes. Former Cuomo aide and associate Joe Percoco—whom Cuomo had referred to as his “brother”— was convicted on bribery charges. Alain Kaloyeros, the chief architect of Cuomo’s signature Buffalo Billion economic development program for western and upstate New York, was also convicted of corruption. Cuomo reportedly violated an executive order prohibiting pay-to-play in state government appointments that he himself signed into law, via a creative “reinterpretation” of it.
Cuomo was also tagged by the New York Times—in its teeth-gritted endorsement of him!—for his “deeply compromised” decision to “abruptly disband” a panel designed to “root out corruption in state politics.” Cuomo and his aides have also been called out for advocating for automatic deletion of their email records after three months, trying to rig questions from reporters during media calls, restricting the release of information by state agencies and deploying staff to “screen records that reporters requested from the State Archives.”
Cuomo was even attacked by the son of a gubernatorial rival for a Cuomo-affiliated party organization doctoring that rival’s family photos for use in an attack ad that implied the rival was a Miami Dolphins fan (a bad thing to be, in and around Buffalo).
Also like the president, fellow son of Queens Cuomo manages to sound negative and dark about America at a time when many voters are desperate to hear something uplifting and positive. Compare and contrast Trump’s pre-2016 “Crippled America” book title and Cuomo’s recent comment that America “was never that great.”
In previous election cycles, political consultants and pundits have joked among ourselves that there ought to be an amendment to the Constitution banning anyone from Massachusetts or Texas from ever running for president. Yet both states have elected figures who are far more acceptable as presidential material than what New York seems capable of delivering lately.
As unlikable and unacceptable as Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Beto O’Rourke are to Republicans and many Independents, if either or both enters the 2020 fray, perhaps they can at least put the kibosh on any potential for Cuomo to successfully run for the Democratic nomination. No one needs a redux of 2016, and a second national trip to the ballot box where we’re give a choice between two ethically-challenged, painful-to-listen-to, make-you-tear-your-hair-out candidates from New York. America deserves better than Andrew Cuomo.