Could Cuomo Lose This Election?

In normal times, the upcoming election for governor might be a “ho-hum” event. After all, Governor Andrew Cuomo has $30 million in the bank for the race and his Republican opponent only a million dollars or so.

But, this is not a normal year. The governor has been pummeled by criminal convictions of some of those closest to him, and he is also engaged in a contentious primary from a media star who is campaigning against him from the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. As the governor moves left to counter her accusations, she moves even further left.

In the meantime, the criminal trials of those close to the governor that have been going on in New York City continue to paint the governor as a “control freak” who manages from the top down and expects his lieutenants to carry out orders. In so doing, juries have found corruption has crept into some state programs, especially in the “Buffalo Billion” and other upstate economic development initiatives.

One old Albany hand that I have spoken with says that such convictions “should not be surprising, since the contracts being awarded in these programs were exempt from the usual state requirement of accepting the lowest of three bids and they were also exempt from the usual review required by the state Comptroller.” In other words, the process invited bid-rigging. Since at least Biblical times, human beings have been known to engage in conduct promoting their own interests instead of the public interest when so tempted.

Not only has the governor’s primary opponent been a “thorn-in-the-flesh,” but she could also be around in the fall general election as the Working Families Party candidate, a third-party line usually reserved for union-supporting Democrats. On top of this, the former mayor of Syracuse and former vice chair of the state Democratic Party is seeking signatures to run against the governor as an Independent.

Another “wrinkle” on the political scene is that Kathy Hochul, the hard-working upstate Lieutenant Governor, is being challenged for her nomination by a member of the New York City Council from Brooklyn. Since there are more Democrats in Brooklyn than in all of Western New York, her opponent could be victorious. Should he win the primary on Sept. 13, the governor would then be running in the general election on an all-New York City ticket.

What would upstate voters do then? They could find solace with the somewhat “upstate” County Executive from the Hudson Valley, Marc Molinaro, who is the Republican nominee for governor. He is a likeable individual who has held public office both at the local level and as a state legislator. (He has also publicly stated that he did not vote for Donald Trump for President.)

Could all of this really happen? Admittedly, there are a lot of “ifs” in this scenario. But, this year reminds me a bit of 1970 when, in a three-candidate race, James Buckley came from behind and was elected to the U.S. Senate. This is New York state, where anything can happen when it comes to politics. After all, we now have a real estate mogul from Queens sitting in the White House and who would have predicted that?

Rolland Kidder is a Stow resident.

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