Sucking the air out of state government

Courtesy of the White House

Donald Trump, the President of the United States, has sucked all the air out of state government. What we have now is all Trump, all the time. If you are a player in state government and want to get into the news cycle, you would be well advised to say something about Trump, preferably something negative in Blue State New York. If you are the Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, and would like to be next up for governor you would be advised to sue the President. He is doing exactly that. I think we can expect more of the same. It certainly makes sense if you want everyone to see what you are doing.

Of course, all of the legislative leaders are in a similar spot. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) is touring the state, including the Republican areas. Trump’s drop in popularity is so great that it seems there is a real possibility that the 2018 elections will offer Trump-haters a chance to turn both the Congress and the State Legislature around. The Democrats already have a huge advantage in the Assembly and if they can win over some upstate voters who almost always go Republican, their advantage will make the Republicans an even more endangered species than they are now.

That brings us to John Flanagan (R-Suffolk County), the erstwhile State Senate Republican leader who is already in the unenviable position of having to play minor league political ball with Governor Andrew Cuomo, so thin is his margin necessary to control his House. He is also being contested for power by his much more conservative rival, Senator John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse), who originally contested for the mild mannered Flanagan’s job. I would not want to be in the sensible Flanagan’s spot. After all, recent polls are showing that at least 65 percent of Republicans across the United States still support Trump. That means that a guy who looks sympathetically close to Trump (DeFrancisco) might be a preferred choice against Flanagan should both decide to contest for the governor’s spot. That, of course, would be fine with Andrew Cuomo who would prefer to run against a guy from the far right than to a more moderate Republican of the George Pataki variety.

Cuomo is in a tough spot. As governor, he can’t really afford to alienate Trump whose help he needs to balance the state budget in any number of ways. All the other Democrats should be attacking Trump as if there were no tomorrow, but Cuomo has to watch his step because Trump is so unpopular with the Democrats who he may desperately need in an upcoming primary against a more liberal Democrat. On the other hand, every time Cuomo wants to prove his Democratic manliness, the only way to go is after Trump.

I feel somewhat sorry for all those reporters who want their state stories in prominent places in their papers and on the other mass media. Editors who make those decisions raise their fingers and judge which way the wind is blowing. If Trump does anything to either frighten or disgust New Yorkers, that’s what comes first. After all, Trump is unbelievably the man with his finger on the nuclear button. Every day his popularity decreases. His numbers in the states that got him elected are dropping like a rock. He will not be re-elected and he may well be impeached depending on what Special Counsel Robert Mueller comes up with in his ongoing investigation.

Things are fluid so we need to keep our eyes open. One false move by any of the principal political players could spell political disaster for that actor. If Trump weren’t such a dangerous man, this might be fun, but if you’re in state government, you had better remember it’s all about Trump. No one knew much about state government before Trump, but now it’s really bad.