So here’s a primer on where Governor Andrew Cuomo is at. In one way, it looks like he is positioned to successfully run for and win a third term. His people believe the only way he could lose is if someone emerged from the left of the party and trounced him for his previous semi-conservative leanings. They do not believe he has any real chance of being beaten by any of the announced potential Republican candidates.
If you take a look at who might have the guts to take on a man who doesn’t suffer his enemies gladly, no Democrats come to mind. Nevertheless, the Cuomo-ites had the stuffing scared out of them when Zephyr Teachout, a little known left-wing candidate with very few resources, primaried him and came close to beating him despite Cuomo’s huge campaign war chest. Teachout performed brilliantly in almost all of upstate except Buffalo, where Andrew has been plowing huge amounts of money into the operations of that challenged city.
Of course Cuomo, who has the same last name as his legendary father, still has huge support in New York City and Long Island where people know less about state politics than the extinct dodo birds. Having faced the cautionary Teachout scare, Cuomo and his people took a sharp turn left. Now the governor, who we all recall ran on keeping taxes down and is still beating up Mayor Bill de Blasio, is travelling the state campaigning for the first $15 an hour minimum wage for workers in New York. They are touting his record as an environmentalist and giving him full credit for having stopped fracking in New York, despite the fact that the anti-fracking forces had to scare the stuffing out of Cuomo to make him do the right thing.
Cuomo has a real problem in that in his earlier incarnation as a conservative-type Democrat he angered so many people that they will never trust him again. To this day, I can’t find a New York state teacher who has anything but scorn for the man, despite the fact that he has been trying to make up his early antipathy towards the teachers. His newer positions will most likely find friends in the various union hierarchies who know that Cuomo will probably score a third term but will not run for a fourth because New York governors don’t win fourth terms. So, that’s when he’ll be at his most dangerous.
But there is something else. Cuomo seems to have had what I might call a “characterectomy.” The new Andrew is nicer, more pleasant and easier to take than the old, “Everyone who isn’t me is my enemy” Andrew. His problem is that his polling numbers are still relatively low and that’s because people really don’t like the guy. Once people decided that he wasn’t nice, they weren’t about to embrace the new Andrew. They remember his killing of his own Moreland Act Commission. They look at his senseless battle with Mayor de Blasio and even worse, his punishment of the city of New York because of his one- sided war with the mayor.
Maybe the best thing that ever happened to Andrew was the fact that the fighting U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara looked carefully at whether or not he should be indicted. I expect that one reason for the new Andrew is his conviction that Preet is still looking at him. While Preet seems to have said there is “insufficient evidence” to indict Cuomo for his Moreland Act activities, there is still an open investigation by Bharara in Buffalo over how the Cuomo people gave out contracts to large contributors. Andrew knows that Preet is looking at him and so a new, more pleasant Andrew has surfaced. There are those who believe that Freud was right and character doesn’t change after the age of four.