About a 12 months from now, there’s a great probability that Gov. Cuomo, as obstinate as ever, will run for a fourth time period.
Since his youth, this has been his overriding obsession — to outdo his governor father, Mario, who did not win a fourth time in 1994. Until January, this appeared like a fait accompli, regardless that it by no means ought to have been.
The delusion of Cuomo, coronavirus conqueror, was in full pressure for all of 2020, because the mainstream media fawned over him and ignored the mass struggling throughout the state. His reputation skyrocketed and there was a quick, deranged second when Democrats mused about dumping Joe Biden on the presidential ticket and changing him with Cuomo.
In 2021, that each one modified. First, Attorney General Letitia James, a former ally, launched a report that confirmed what many reporters and Albany politicians suspected: The Cuomo administration had severely undercounted COVID-19 deaths in nursing houses. The Justice Department would quickly launch a contemporary probe into the coverup.
At the identical time, ladies who had labored for Cuomo have been coming ahead to accuse him of sexual harassment and assault. The State Assembly opened an impeachment inquiry.
Most of the state’s political class, together with Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, known as for Cuomo to resign. Taking recommendation from his CNN host brother, Cuomo refused to present in, ranting about “cancel culture” as his polling numbers tanked.
James is about to launch a report on the sexual harassment allegations in the approaching months. At some level, the Justice Department probe will attain its conclusion. The slow-grinding Assembly investigation might want to wrap too.
But for now, Cuomo exists in a type of limbo. Support from Democratic voters, down from the historic peaks of 2020, may be stabilizing and even growing. A current Siena College ballot discovered that greater than 60 p.c of Democrats still approved of Cuomo, which can doubtless persuade him to run yet another time. The governor has a pathological thirst for dominance and received’t voluntarily give up the trimmings of his workplace.
Cuomo and his allies suppose they’ve waited out the worst and might now trundle onwards to June 2022, when the subsequent state Democratic major shall be held. In 2014 and 2018, Cuomo simply swatted away lefty challengers, spending them into oblivion.
But this time could be totally different as a result of a brand new, very best candidate has emerged to drive Cuomo out: James herself.
The state’s first black lawyer normal, James has deep roots in Brooklyn and powerful ties to organized labor. Beating Cuomo in the first shall be about chopping into his deep reservoirs of help. One is labor: Huge unions like 1199 SEIU, the health-care employees union, have remained steadfast Cuomo supporters. James, along with her personal statewide perch and marketing campaign historical past with them — she received races of lawyer normal and public advocate with the backing of many unions — will be the solely one who can peel these organizations from Cuomo.
These statewide unions pour hundreds of thousands into campaigns and mobilize voters. In 2014 and 2018, they helped Cuomo simply swat away two progressive challengers, Zephyr Teachout and Cynthia Nixon.
Both ladies did not beat Cuomo as a result of they could not make inroads in the outer boroughs of New York City, notably in black and Latino neighborhoods. Spending far more cash, Cuomo dominated The Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens, and is relying on this help once more to glide to a fourth time period.
Deep down, Cuomo is aware of James, not like some other potential contender, is a risk to take these voters away. She is a former metropolis councilwoman from Central Brooklyn and enjoys vital identify recognition in black neighborhoods. The metropolis’s public advocate earlier than capturing, in 2018, the workplace of lawyer normal, James has appeared on ballots in aggressive elections in all 5 boroughs.
So far, Cuomo has survived as a result of the cautious labor unions are nonetheless in his nook, in addition to the state’s wealthiest donors. If the titans of finance and Wall Street determine they’re sick of Cuomo, he’s in deep hassle. James should merely enhance on Nixon’s New York City vote share, since there are numerous anti-Cuomo Democrats to be discovered north of the 5 boroughs, notably in the Albany space.
The path to beating Cuomo is becoming a member of black and Latino voters, lots of them extra reasonable and church-going, with white progressives who additionally vote reliably. Teachout and Nixon could not create this coalition. James, along with her pedigree, can. No longer perceived as Cuomo’s lackey, she has received headlines for suing Donald Trump and investigating Cuomo himself.
This received’t be straightforward, after all. Cuomo is a prodigious fundraiser and there are sufficient blinkered MSNBC-watching liberals who will stick by him. But James has an opportunity to do what was as soon as unthinkable — finish the reign of one other Cuomo.
Ross Barkan is the writer of “The Prince: Andrew Cuomo, Coronavirus, and the Fall of New York” (OR Books), out June 22.