New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has finally made it clear that he intends to run for reelection. Last year there had been talk among the Governor’s operatives that a safer play for Cuomo’s ultimate goal — the White House in 2020 — would be to step aside and avoid the spectacle of a public corruption trial during his reelection year.
The trial has been delayed, but it is still expected that Cuomo will be a staring witness for the defense of his former political strongman Joe Percoco. His chief lieutenant and political enforcer is alleged to have received bribes from LP Ciminelli, the firm that has long dominated Western New York’s government funded construction industry, and other beneficiaries of his signature Buffalo Billion program.
Forgoing a reelection effort would allow Cuomo to avoid the inevitable headlines that the trial is expected to attract, protecting him from the type of media scrutiny that could undermine a presidential campaign effort in 2020. It was widely thought that he would back Mayor Byron W. Brown, a loyalist and party chairman.
Only 50 percent of respondents view the Governor favorably, while 48 percent disapprove of his performance. That’s upward movement from his negative 45-54 percent rating in November, according to the Siena College poll. Cuomo is described as liberal by 48% of respondents; 40% percent as a moderate; and 10% percent as a conservative.
The Governor’s handlers are panicked by internal polling that shows Cuomo trailing former United States Attorney Preet Bharara, by a double digit margin among likely Democratic primary voters.
It’s unclear whether Bharara plans to run, but voters from both parties are eagerly encouraging the corruption crusading attorney to seek the office.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is also considering the primary. DeBlasio is a proud liberal who has often sparred with Cuomo and the Republican lead State Senate Majority, a coalition that Cuomo architected to thwart leftists influences downstate. Other Democrats considering the contest are Sex and the City actress Cynthia Nixon, of Manhattan; and Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner.
Zephyr Teachout, the Fordham University law school professor who challenged Cuomo in the 2014 primary, is reportedly considering a run on the Green Party line.
Republicans are lining up to challenge Cuomo as well, which could make for the most contested primary in decades. Western New York’s own Joel Giambra announced his intentions to seek the office. Giambra is a proud moderate who touts his independence and a message of government consolidation that appeals strongly in the suburbs of New York City — an expected battleground that Cuomo see’s as his base.
The Minority Leader of the State Assembly Brian Kolb, Duchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro, and Senate Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco are also waging efforts in the primary. Investment banker Harry Wilson has declined the contest.
Robert Porter is rumored to be considering the race. Porter is a graduate of Harvard Law School, a tenured Syracuse University Professor, former President of the Seneca Nation of Indians, and an attorney with the prominent international firm, Denton’s. It is expected that Porter would have the monied backing of Native American gaming and tobacco interests.