“Every generation needs a new revolution.”
-Thomas Jefferson

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
-Martin Luther King Jr.

Staceyann Chin, National Equality March 10/10/09 photo: Ed Needham

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Dear Mr. Cuomo, A Sure Thing was a romantic coming-of-age movie.

(ie. there is no such thing as a sure thing in politics. Just ask President Hillary Clinton.)

Governor Paterson's debacle of the past couple weeks has stirred things up in the New York State political scene. To say the least. Especially over the past couple years, Empire State politics have been something akin to a professional wrestling match - lots of well rehearsed moves, unbelievable falls, and over-the-top grandstanding.

It has gotten to the point where I can't look at Gov. Paterson without thinking of Fred Armisen's cutting portrayal on SNL. The Governor has become a caricature of himself. Calls for his resignation are coming from all corners- from GOPers all too eager to score some political points, from Dems seeking to put as much distance as possible between themselves and the Gov., and today, from the National Organization for Women. The question last week was "will he drop out of the campaign?" This week it went from "will he resign?" to "when will he resign?" in a matter of 24 hours. It is no stretch to surmise the Patterson Administration is all but over. From here on out, it is only a matter of some more juicy headlines and a solidified date of departure.

All eyes are now on NY Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, son of three term Governor, Mario Cuomo. The press and the nearly every pol and pundit have all but anointed him as the next Governor of New York (save for Lt. Gov. Richard "Dick" Ravitch, next in line to finish out the term following a Paterson resignation). Unlike David Paterson, Andrew Cuomo inherited much of his father's political savvy. He is currently mum on the subject of the Gubernatorial race. And for good reason.

As NY Attorney General, Cuomo is presently involved in two high profile investigations - Paterson's Aide-gate and, less known outside of NY, an investigation involving NY Senate Majority Leader, Pedro Espada, Jr.  These investigations could be potential mine-fields, especially Paterson's. The fact that the Governor hasn't resigned yet likely means he is holding onto the seat as a potential bargaining chip given the results of the investigation. It will be a precariously fine line Cuomo must walk. He will need to satisfy the calls for justice while keeping a semblance of impartiality. A tall order when you are considered the default successor.

If Cuomo emerges sufficiently unscathed, it will then be his race to lose. And in politics, everyone loves the underdog. Fortunately for Cuomo, the "underdog" is GOP bad boy, Rick Lazio. A figure who doesn't draw much sympathy from tough New York voters.

Last but not least, the election for Governor isn't until November. Centuries in political time. Cuomo surely knows that anything can happen between now and then and usually does. If his current demeanor and reticence to engage Lazio and the issues around the election are a precursor to how he handles the situation between now and November 2, he should be able to pull it off. He undoubtedly knows it will be a long road to hoe because there is no such thing as a "a sure thing" in politics. Just ask President Hillary Clinton.

Read more about Cuomo's Albany entanglements in the NY Daily News here.
Read about the nails in the coffin of the Paterson Administration in the NY Times here.
Read about the very fine line Cuomo must walk in NY Magazine here.

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