(December 22, 2021) — Sources close to Andrew Cuomo say that the disgraced former Governor is secretly planning a political comeback — with the passive help of Rep. Tom Suozzi. Suozzi plans to run for Governor next year in order to clear the way for Cuomo’s run for Congress in a moderate Long Island district that Cuomo believes would be favorable to his brand of ‘old-school fundraising-driven politics’.
It’s unclear if Suozzi is an active architect of the plan, or whether he is an unwitting pawn in the calculus of Cuomo’s inner circle. Behind the scenes, Suozzi’s gubernatorial campaign has been receiving tactical support and encouragement from Cuomo’s operatives, who see Suozzi’s gubernatorial candidacy as helping to turnout the Italian vote down-ballot in the Democratic primary. Cuomo is expecting a slew of challengers to become the Democratic nominee in the 3rd congressional district — perhaps as many as six or seven.
Cuomo’s top apparatchik, Rich Azzopardi, is thought to be the architect of the strategy — which is rooted more in marketing and messaging than numbers and polling. Azzopardi is recommending that Cuomo pivots his policy positions harder to the right and runs in the 3rd congressional district’s primary against the left-wing of the party that he perceives as orchestrating his ouster.
While he wants Cuomo to run as a tough-on-crime former prosecutor, the former Governor’s pending criminal probes could lead to his incarceration, which could complicate the campaign’s messaging. But those are risks that Cuomo is familiar with and isn’t particularly discomforted by. He is a political animal and thirsts for the adrenaline rush of the game.
He also has more than $18 million in campaign funds that, by law, he can only spend on politics. Cuomo may quietly fund much of Suozzi’s brand-building effort by donating to third-party independent expenditure committees that advocate for, but ostensibly don’t coordinate with, Suozzi’s candidacy.
“The Governor believes he can woo a majority of the Democratic caucus in the House to elect him minority leader, putting him at a new pinnacle of his career and back at the top of his game,” the source explains. “His personal ambition is to become Speaker of the House within three election cycles, and his heart is really in this next pursuit.”