Last week, the New York Times dropped a bombshell scoop: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo sandbagged his own anti-corruption commission when it started sniffing around the governor's office. It's a huge story that totally undercuts his image as a good-government, corruption-smashing reformer.
Cuomo is up for re-election this year, and until this scandal he was cruising to victory. However, he appears dramatically weaker today, especially since he hasn't come up with a convincing response. After holing up for five days, he came out swinging against the Times, but was flustered and incoherent:
Last summer, Mr. Cuomo said the panel could investigate anything — even his office. He reversed course in the statement his office gave The Times, declaring, "A commission appointed by and staffed by the executive cannot investigate the executive."
Asked about that apparent contradiction on Monday, the governor appeared to disown the statement to The Times. "I never said it couldn’t investigate me," he said. "I never said that. See, facts matter, even for The New York Times." [The New York Times]
Cuomo's support on the left has always been fairly weak. With the governor on the back foot, now is the perfect time to make a real effort to defeat him. In the Democratic primary on Sept. 9, he is being challenged by Zephyr Teachout, who narrowly lost the Working Families Party nomination. And in the general election, Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins is worth supporting.
There are three major reasons to ditch Cuomo.
First, Cuomo has a history of advancing nakedly conservative goals. He gave his leave to GOP-gerrymandered state districts. When state Democrats won the 2012 election anyway, he didn't lift a finger to stop two state Democrats from switching sides. And as the Bridgegate investigation has showed, he works hand-in-glove with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on some highly suspect stuff. He just loves cutting deals with Republicans to bolster his bipartisan credentials, even if the outcomes of those deals are awful and anti-liberal.
Second, Cuomo has consistently obstructed Mayor Bill de Blasio's agenda. Six months in, the de Blasio mayoralty looks to be off to a decent start. But the truth is that the mayor of New York simply doesn't have that much power to institute major policy in the face of opposition from Albany, and getting Cuomo to go along has been like pulling teeth. Instead of raising taxes on the rich, Cuomo wants to cut them. He blocked rental subsidies for the homeless. Worst of all is Cuomo's atrocious urban policy, particularly on public transportation, whose coffers he wants to raid to alleviate costs for drivers. De Blasio seems to get that New York City is absolutely dependent on its subways and buses, but like most rich people Cuomo is a driving partisan to the bone.
Third is corruption. Obviously, the Times investigation is the major mark against him here, though his campaign has also admitted to rounding up fake protesters to harass Zephyr Teachout while she is campaigning.
The bottom line is that Andrew Cuomo is the worst kind of backstabbing, triangulating "centrist" in the wretched No Labels mold. Better for liberals to beat him now, or at least make his victory as unimpressive as possible, before we have to beat him in a presidential primary down the line.