July 7, 2017

Andrew Cuomo’s Ideological Contortions A Major Issue For His National Prospects

This weekend, Governor Andrew Cuomo is heading out to the Hamptons for a $25,000 fundraiser at a $147 million East Hampton estate. While Cuomo has his 2018 re-election bid as cover, these types of big money events naturally bring with them national chatter.

Yet while the Cuomo for President speculation continues to build, one big question remains. Which Andrew Cuomo is going to run for President in 2020?

As Politico outlines today, Robert Louis Stevenson could have made quite a study of Governor Cuomo’s two terms in office. When Cuomo came into office in 2011, he was determined to cut a moderate path. Along those lines, he pushed for smart policies like charter schools:

“When he at last became the second Cuomo to serve as governor of New York, by the standards of the state, he was barely a Democrat. It was in the depths of the Tea Party’s counter-revolt against Obama’s presidency; the state’s economic outlook was disastrous and Cuomo positioned himself firmly as a man of the center. He capped property taxes and let a tax on millionaires expire. He gathered a bunch of friends in the real estate industry to run an outside spending campaign on behalf of his agenda, rallied for charter schools, slashed pensions and the state workforce.”

Yet, after Zephyr Teachout’s 2014 primary challenge proved more successful than anticipated, Cuomo tacked so far to the left, so fast, that he now finds himself palling around with Bernie Sanders:

“Cuomo responded by swinging abruptly to the left. Since then, even with the state Senate’s hybrid Democratic-Republican coalition still in place, Cuomo has passed a $15 minimum wage, implemented a robust paid family leave program, raised the age of criminal responsibility to 18, rushed through a plan to make tuition free at the state’s public colleges and universities, and banned fracking.”

Unsurprisingly, Cuomo’s impersonation of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde has not endeared him to the ideological purists in his party. They view Cuomo’s ideological adjustments as nothing more than a “cynical exercise in box-checking” and Cuomo himself as “fundamentally dishonest.” One Sanders ally went so far as to call Cuomo the “worst of the worst”:

“But if he runs, he’s got one big roadblock in his way first: The energy in the Democratic Party right now comes from a newly energized left. And the energized left, not to put too fine a point on it, hates Andrew Cuomo. ‘The worst of the worst,’ said Nomiki Konst, a Sanders delegate to the Democratic National Convention and frequent cable TV defender of the candidate who now serves on the Democratic National Committee’s Unity Commission.”

Add up all this ideological movement and combine it with looming ethical clouds and a brewing issues like the transit revolt over commuter’s “summer of hell,” and you’ve got some pretty sizeable baggage for Cuomo’s national run. Given Cuomo’s history though, he’ll surely find a way to adapt whatever position is necessary to stay in the game.