September 11, 2014

Primary Post-mortem: #AskCuomo

In the end, the result was expected, even if the numbers were better than expected.

Andrew Cuomo, New York's Sonofa Gov, handily won the primary battle with Zephyr Teachout, with about 327,000 votes to her 185,000. Those who thought that Teachout, the law school professor, would barely make a dent were wrong, it turned out. She outright won 24 counties; who knows what would have happened if more people had voted.

Cuomo was barely visible during the primary season, other than going to the State Fair here in Syracuse and the Labor Day Parade in New York City. A thoroughly entrenched incumbent with dozens of millions of dollars at the ready, I'd be surprised if he spent as much of his own campaign funds during the entire primary season as I spend in one week feeding My Sweet Baboo and our cats.

All of the ads, all of the mail, everything I saw was paid for by the state Democratic Party -- a state party which apparently believes we here in Syracuse should be as enamored of the Buffalo Billion as are folks in Erie County, and should be thrilled with Cuomo for everything he's done for Western New York; I guess we can only wait to see whether the campaign mail is more reflective of us here in CNY between now and November, and to see what comes our direction once his second term gets into full swing, especially since he and Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner have made amends.

Zephyr Teachout had almost no money yet still managed to reinvigorate the left wing of the party, and actually made them feel like they belonged again. I think that was really the point of her campaign: the Democratic Party is big enough to welcome traditional Dems along side the 'new Cuomo' Dems, if you will, even the ones who sometimes come across looking more like Republicans to the libs.

Beyond fracking and wage equality and what not, Teachout and I had the same bone to pick with the governor. We want honest politicians who do not take advantage of every available trick of the trade to get elected or to stay in office. We want people who walk the talk of the reforms they pretend to support. We do not want politicians who publicly lament money in politics and then take it in hand over fist, as fast as they possibly can.  My views on election reform and campaign finance reform are out there for anyone who wants to pay attention. Andrew Cuomo doesn't.

His handling of the Moreland Commission was atrocious. His heavy handed approach to getting people to go along with the limited campaign reforms passed this past April is reminiscent of the actions that got Texas Governor Rick Perry arrested. They are not the actions of an ethical politician, one who sleeps easy at night because he's doing the right thing. But he doesn't pay attention to anyone on those subjects, either.

Cuomo's failure to debate Teachout - in sharp contrast to dad Mario's primary race against Ed Koch -- showed his disdain for the primary process very clearly. In response to a reporter's question on whether not debating was a disservice to democracy, he gave us this gem:
I've been in many debates that I think were a disservice to democracy, so anybody who says debates are always a service to democracy hasn't watched all the debates that I've been in.
I think most of us would have taken the risk on that; we would have liked to see the two square off on the issues, to truly see where they differed and where the heart of the party really lies. Instead, we're left with the #AskCuomo hashtag, which was used with both insight and humor during the last couple weeks of her campaign. And with this thank you message from Zephyr Teachout.

And Cuomo? Well, he can now waltz towards a November victory against Rob Astorino, the Westchester County Republican and sacrificial lamb the state Republicans chose when His Hairness, the blowhard Donald Trump bailed on them. That, too, went the way just about everyone expected, save a few county Republican chairmen who actually fell for his bluster.

Hopefully we'll see #AskCuomo throughout the inevitable second term. It's the least we can do, I think, to keep the pressure on, to help nudge the Governor in the direction he so wants us to believe he wants to go.