If his poll numbers continue to plummet, incumbent Governor Andrew Cuomo may choose not to seek reelection later this year — avoiding the type of political loss that undermined his father’s presidential ambitions. Political operatives loyal to the Governor are contemplating a ‘worst case scenario’ that seemed unthinkable a few short months ago. Strategists have been tasked with developing contingency plans to abandon the primary in an emergency situation.
Cynthia Nixon — an endeared figure to most New Yorkers given her high profile role in Sex and the City — presents an unexpectedly difficult primary. She hasn’t yet tapped into her pool of celebrity friends, Hollywood fundraising opportunities, or the star power that enables her to attract a big crowd and to awe them with a speech that only a trained actor could deliver.
Pulling out of the gubernatorial election ahead of the Democratic primary would preserve Cuomo’s ability to contend for the presidency in 2020 — barring any forthcoming indictments.
The Governor’s statewide favorability has fallen just below 49% in a recent Siena College poll. If his favorability number falls below 39% before late July, Cuomo operatives worry that he will be unable to retain the office — even with the presence of a strong third party contender.
Strategists are contemplating an ’emergency pivot,’ in which the Governor exits the race and replaces his name on the ballot with a loyalist.
In that scenario, the Cuomo machine would maneuver to preserve its patronage largess, and continue to control the machinations of the Governorship through a handpicked successor acting at his behest. Cuomo would then focus on building a less monomaniacal public image ahead of the presidential nominating process.
There is still much disagreement in the Cuomo orbit regarding the architecture of a soft landing at such a late date in the election calendar. In one postulation, Cuomo would bow out on the premise that he desires to spend more time with his spouse, Sandra Lee, ahead of a wedding that would be simultaneously announced.
If widely promoted for several months in the entertainment media, the wedding would generate celebrity fodder and untold sums in free publicity. It’s a suitable premise on which Cuomo could cultivate a more well rounded image in the national consiousness.
A second school of thought among the strategists believes that Cuomo should accept a cabinet position in the Trump administration and forgo his presidential run until 2024. In less partisan times, opposition party appointments to the cabinet were common.
Trump and Cuomo have a relatively warm relationship. Cuomo could make for a suitable Attorney General, having already served as New York’s Attorney General and likely to attract sufficient confirmation votes in the Senate.
Trump is desperate to replace Jeff Sessions with someone who is willing to deal strategically. Having a Democrat exonerate the administration of Russian collusion allegations would be a powerful tool in defeating a narrative that has engulfed Trump’s term thus far.
Either scenario would preserve Andrew Cuomo’s ability to contend for the presidency, while elevating him to a national discourse.