Publisher’s Corner: Governor’s race will come down to “likeability” and guts

Legislative Gazette file photo
Cynthia Nixon attends a pro-environment rally outside the Capitol in Albany earlier this year.

Cynthia Nixon is the real thing. She dropped by my public radio office one afternoon and we had a lovely chat. I have to tell you, I really liked the woman and “likeability” and guts (the ability to tell it like it is) are really what this whole gubernatorial race is likely to come down to. Anyone who gets to know her is going to like her. She is honest, straightforward and has enough straight out courage to give anyone hope in this tough time. I asked her whether she’d like to be on the radio but she said she just wanted to get to know me. Frankly, I was flattered as I don’t think I am deserving of her attention.

In one corner is Nixon the Nice — in the other, Andrew Cuomo, who lacks what Cynthia Nixon has. He is strategically brilliant. He plays by the standard political rules. He does the right thing in liberal New York State. Trump treated Puerto Rico despicably and Cuomo made one trip after another to that beautiful island. When all the gun lovers were defending the indefensible acts of school violence, Cuomo did the right thing and worked to pass the SAFE Act, probably the high point of his tenure. He has led the way on gay rights. In many ways he is Lyndon Johnson to Jack or Bobby Kennedy. In other words, you can be strategically brilliant and still lose. If you follow Nixon’s polls, her progress is erratic.

Oh, Andrew certainly has some black marks against his name. There was the inexplicably stupid and venal closing down of his own Moreland Act Commission that he established to help clean up corruption in New York State government. That was compounded as some of his top aides and most treasured staff were indicted and, in some cases, convicted of serious grafting, the very thing that the former self-styled crusading Attorney General said that he would root out in government during his run for governor. Then there was his equally stupid undermining of Tom DiNapoli, undoubtedly the best public servant in New York. When he took the pre-auditing powers away from DiNapoli, it could be argued that he actually empowered the grafters in his administration.

There was the whole matter of keeping the Republicans in control of the New York State Senate. From the Casey Stengel department of, “You could look it up,” I have been writing for years that the day Cuomo called the so-called Independent Democratic Conference into the room and told them to cut out their traitorous ways as they voted to keep the Republicans in power, they would have to do so. As people finally figured out what the governor who would be president was doing, Cuomo did exactly what I have been telling him to do. He really couldn’t afford to have all the national Democrats asking him why he had been playing footsie with the Republicans. Then, of course, there was all that braggadocio about how he was in charge of the MTA in New York as the whole operation faced collapse. Now that was dumb.

Most people who know the guy understand that he is one of the most lethal politicians of all. He is not easy to like. Last week his campaign took a shot at Nixon for misspelling Ithaca. She, on the other hand, is an unpolitical politician. She tells the truth about all of Andrew’s foibles. She says that he is too late to the do-good table. People are coming up to her and hugging her because she exudes decency. You won’t see that with Cuomo. He tried to screw the teachers in New York and now he has made up with the union bigwigs but the teachers I speak with will never forgive him.

Cynthia Nixon, her I like.