Publisher’s Corner: Sleeping political lions (and lionesses) are beginning to wake

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner

The federal government has sucked the wind out of state government. How can you compete for news with Donald Trump and his blustering egomaniacal narcissism?

Maybe things will calm down now that Trump has called in the military in the form of General John Kelly. This is a very dangerous precedent and things in Washington are beginning to look like something out of Seven Days in May. For now, Kelly may have put out the Trump-inspired fire but in the meantime, there is simply nothing going on in state politics that will cause a political stir.

This is great news for Governor Andrew Cuomo who was in real political trouble, what with his closest associates going on trial for alleged graft and his trouble with the Summer of Hell, another name for his stewardship of the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) with particular emphasis on the New York City subway system.

Poor Cuomo has never played well in upstate New York, but his saving grace has always been in New York City and its immediate suburbs. While few people there know squat about state politics, they do know the Cuomo name, with Andrew as governor and his brother Chris a star on CNN. Papa Mario is still a saint to many New Yorkers.

If the subways and the Cuomo associates’ trials continue to plague the governor, whose popularity is dropping like a rock, Cuomo would certainly be vulnerable to someone who tried to take him on either in a primary or in the general election. With the millions of dollars Cuomo has collected for his reelection it is doubtful that anyone could beat him, although if you go back to Zephyr Teachout’s primary run against Cuomo just a few years back, she beat his pants off in most of upstate New York.

If the city turns on Cuomo, that could be his Waterloo. Worse for Cuomo is his relationship with the Donald who can either help him or badly hurt him with needed resources for New York City. So Cuomo has been laying off Trump and that is not a good technique for bring his deserting left flank back to him.

But there are increasing signs of interest as we watch some sleeping political lions and lionesses lifting an eye toward running against the governor. The latest is a potentially lethal candidate in Stephanie Miner, the current mayor of Syracuse. Miner is a terrific public servant with guts that won’t quit. Early on she was appointed to be the co-chair of the Democratic Party in New York and she didn’t hesitate to disagree with Cuomo when she thought his policies were incorrect. That made her a real hero to many who had doubts about Cuomo. Now she is examining a primary against Cuomo although one of the oldest pieces of political dicta has always been that unless you are from one of the five boroughs (or close to them), you have no chance of winning a Democratic primary because the majority of Democrats in the state live in the city proper of the  adjacent suburbs. Anyone who believes that Cuomo is not a New Yorker because he now lives in the ‘burbs ought to take one listen to the guy to check out his authenticity. Not since Al Smith has someone spoken with such a New York accent.

One never knows what may happen in a primary, but assuming that Stephanie Miner does choose to run against Cuomo, she will take most of upstate New York. If she spends some real time in the Big Apple, she might just catch on with all the New York school teachers who will never forgive the governor for scapegoating teachers in his first term and for the currently baking, sweating unhappy subway riders.

So while everything is about Trump these days, just below the surface some interesting things are happening.