Assembly Speaker Heastie has opined that Andrew Cuomo is indeed running for president in 2020 to which I say, “Does a bear walk in the woods?” To know the ambitious Andrew is to understand that he will run for several reasons. The first is that he thinks it will be fun. He was weaned on politics and he is very good at playing the game. His father, Mario, once invented a character called A.J. Parkinson who he quoted as saying, “Reason with them — it makes them crazy.” If you want to know about both Cuomos, look no further than that. Andrew is a conservative on Monday and a liberal on Tuesday. He keeps the Republicans in control of the State Senate through one devious exercise or another.
To understand why Cuomo might just be the perfect antidote to Donald Trump, consider his behavior and recognize that he has some of the same characteristics as the monster Trump. He bullies, he cajoles, he takes his own counsel, he makes very, very bad decisions about who to appoint and then those appointees get into big trouble.
Cuomo has been strangely silent on the Trumpster. He knows better than to take on a bully who could try to get even by taking it out on New York State. This distinguishes himself from his competitor, State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who is showing tremendous courage in taking on Trump. Andrew does not waste political capital. When the time comes, he’ll be ferocious when it comes to taking on one of the most dangerous men who has ever been elected president. You can take that to the bank. Andrew Cuomo, however, is anything but the Kennedy prototype of a “Profile in Courage.”
Let’s take his infrastructure program. He builds us a bridge but he hems and haws when it comes to telling us how he intends to pay for it. He says he’ll rebuild LaGuardia Airport and a lot of other projects but the fact is, when it comes time to pay down the bonds, it will surely be on someone else’s watch.
Andrew doesn’t have friends. He can’t afford them. His friend Joe Percoco, who he described as his third brother, is on trial by the feds and the other Cuomo confident, Todd Howe, has pled guilty and is talking to the feds. My bet is that Andrew has learned a big time lesson that he isn’t very good at picking friends. Better not to have them. Trump has it right — I’ll bet he’s thinking that loyalty is a one way street.
In addition to thinking that running might be fun, Andrew needs politics in his life. If you want to learn what makes him tick, read “The Contender: Andrew Cuomo, A Biography,” by the brilliant author Michael Shnayerson. The point is that Mario could grab a corner office at the law firm Willkie Farr and be perfectly happy. For Andrew, it’s politics and his other joy, fixing cars and motorcycles. He’s trapped. He really doesn’t have any choices — he has to run.
There are many people who tell me that Cuomo can’t win and I remind them that Donald Trump is the president of the United States. It really can’t be a matter of his speech pattern that identifies him as a New Yorker. He knows how to build a record. He is excellent on gun control; a statewide minimum wage, paid family leave and the lowest middle class tax rate in seventy years. But to win the presidency, you have to champion at least a group of people. I have never met anyone who personally likes the guy. And to win the presidency, you have to be liked. Trump has his 33 percent. I doubt Andrew has that among any group who would go to the wall for him. So Boss Heastie is right. He’s running. He has to.