Tags: Andrew Cuomo | New York

New York's Cuomo to Leave a Legacy of Cronyism

By Friday, 29 August 2014 11:38 AM Current | Bio | Archive

In 1992, Bill Clinton faced with a tough three way race for president did not do what conventional wisdom called for him to do. He did not pick a woman to be his vice presidential candidate. He did not choose a Catholic. He did not opt for a candidate from a different region or an important state. He asked Sen. Al Gore, another Protestant from a Southern albeit boarder state to run with him as his vice president although their similarities in political pedigree far outweighed their differences.

Clinton wanted a person he believed could be president if destiny called.

Similarly, in 2000, Texas Gov. George W. Bush chose Dick Cheney from the very red state of Wyoming, as his vice presidential candidate — instead of a governor or senator from a mid-western battleground state, because he knew Cheney was highly qualified to hold the nation’s highest office.

In New York state, with the shortened gubernatorial term of Eliot Spitzer, voters learned the importance of who is lieutenant governor. Caught up in a sordid prostitution ring, Spitzer resigned and Lt. Gov. David Paterson assumed the office and quickly admitted to having multiple serial marital affairs himself.

Why did Spitzer choose David Paterson, an undistinguished state senator?
Because he was the son of the revered Basil Paterson, the first African-American to run on a statewide ticket as lieutenant governor with Arthur Goldberg in 1970.

This year Gov. Andrew Cuomo had to pick a new lieutenant governor since his current one, Bob Duffy, did not wish to serve another term in a rather thankless job.

Yet, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, possessing a high favorability rating, did not have to worry about political balance or the impact of his choice on his reelection. He could have picked the very best person to be governor in the unlikely but always possible event he was unable to serve the full four years.

What did he do? He chose Kathy Hochul. Qualified to be governor? Huh?

You decide. She won — without a majority — in a special election for Congress from Erie County, serving one year and seven months. She lost her bid for election for a full term. Before that for four years she was the County Clerk of Erie County, and prior to that Deputy County Clerk.

Wow. County Clerk. So from 2003 until 2011, she was in the county clerk’s office of Erie County, then in Congress for less than two years. Sound gubernatorial?

So why did Gov. Andrew Cuomo pick clerk / part term Congresswoman Hochal? Could it be he wanted a candidate from Western New York where he lost to the Republican candidate four years ago. Could it be he wanted a woman on what otherwise would be an all male ticket?

Nah. That would be political.

Clearly Gov. Andrew Cuomo felt among the millions of eligible people, Kathy Hochal was the most qualified to be governor. Interestingly, one of governor's political heroes, Gov. Hugh L. Carey, when faced with a similar decision while running for reelection in 1978 operated very differently. Mary Anne Krupsak, who had been elected in 1974 as Gov. Carey’s lieutenant governor, decided to run against him instead of with him.

Unexpectedly, the governor had to pick a new lieutenant governor candidate.

Gov. Carey was way down in the polls and was expected to face a tough fight. A fierce opponent of the death penalty, Gov. Carey’s position was in conflict with the large majority of New Yorkers who were still reeling from the Son of Sam murders. Carey clearly needed political help. He had just lost a woman lieutenant governor so a woman made sense. She was also from upstate so an upstater made sense. As a well-known Catholic, picking a Protestant would help too. And he needed someone who was not known for their outspoken opposition to the death penalty. Carey needed someone who would help him get reelected, and the heck with who would be the best governor.

So Carey did not hesitate. He did not waver.

Once he got his candidate’s agreement, he announced his lieutenant governor candidate. He was a Roman Catholic. His opposition to the death penalty was as clear as Gov. Carey’s. He was an ethnic Italian. He was from New York City – Queens. He was a male.

He was experienced in state government and had served for four years as Gov. Carey’s Secretary of State. He had run for Mayor of New York City and lost to Ed Koch. He was exactly what Carey did not need to help him win reelection. But Carey believed he was qualified to be governor.

His name was Mario M. Cuomo who served for four years as lieutenant governor and then 12 years as the Governor of the State of New York.

Hugh Carey chose responsibly. Andrew Cuomo chose expediency.

Gov. Carey will always be remembered for saving New York City.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo will always be remembered for saving himself.
The irony is palpable.

George J. Marlin, a former executive director of the Port Authority of N.Y. and N.J., is the author of "The American Catholic Voter: Two Hundred Years of Political Impact." He also is a columnist for TheCatholicThing.org and the Long Island Business News. Read more reports from George J. Marlin — Click Here Now.

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Governor Andrew will always be remembered for saving himself.
Andrew Cuomo, New York
Friday, 29 August 2014 11:38 AM
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