Cuomo’s Woes: It’s Not Just ‘The Fringe’

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Cuomo
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: Merely “left-wing disgruntlement?”
(Photo by Zack Seward/flickr)

1. The Court of Appeals didn’t rule that Zephyr Teachout could appear on the Democratic primary ballot until 20 days before primary day. The entire outreach of her campaign to most Democratic households consisted of a handful of emails. Yet, according to unofficial results as of this writing, Teachout received more votes than Cuomo in 31 of New York’s 62 counties (Cuomo leads in two counties by less than a dozen votes). Teachout broke 60 percent in 15 counties.

2. Newsday, a print-based subsidiary of Cablevision, editorialized that Teachout’s support was “fueled by the party’s usual left-wing disgruntlement” who “don’t speak for an entire state.”

3. Albany County has a pretty good mix of urban, suburban and rural neighborhoods. Voters there are politically sophisticated; Suffolk County has nearly five times the population and more than three times the number of enrolled Democrats, but Albany cast more votes in the primary. Cuomo ran 27 percentage points behind in Albany County.

4. The Cuomo campaign recognized that there was a problem, and not just from some fringe. There was unprecedented direct spending by the Democratic State Committee for the Cuomo ticket. There was also that Other Stuff.

5. “Cuomo and de Blasio Intimidate Democrats Backing Teachout,” blared a New York Post headline. Credible reports have stated that the governor and key operatives used “threats and intimidation in recent days” and were “making it clear that anyone who even considers endorsing Teachout or Wu will pay a big political price.”

6. This is a good time to remind everybody that this kind of alleged behavior is illegal in this state. Not just distasteful or disappointing. It is illegal to threaten a public officer for behaving or not behaving in a certain way.

7. It was one of the impeachment charges against Governor Sulzer in 1913, after he promised there would be a big political price to pay for legislators who voted against his election reform bill.

8. New York has a Fair Campaign Code on the books, never really enforced.

9. In what has already been dubbed the “Right to Lie” ruling, a federal judge has struck down Ohio’s state law prohibiting outright false statements in political advertising. The judge quoted fictional Netflix character Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) in House of Cards: “There’s no better way to overcome a trickle of doubt than with a flood of naked truth.”

10. The median household income in the U.S. during 2012 was $30,932. During the current state legislative cycle, 2013-2014, there have been 1,054 donations of at least $30,932 made to political campaigns in New York, totaling $254.9 million dollars. This does not include $210.5 million spent to lobby and persuade state and local government officials in 2013 alone.

11. Cablevision’s New York political contributions in 2013-2014: $1,220,860, including $170,000 to Cuomo 2014, but not including contributions from corporation owners, executives and employees, or lobbying expenses or cable industry contributions.
12. People with a beef (with “disgruntlement”) need a lot of naked truth to overcome money like that.

13. Campaign contributions and lobbying don’t buy votes, exactly. They buy personal connection. The second hardest thing in the world for most elected officials is to ask for contributions. The hardest thing is to take a contribution from someone and then tell them something they don’t want to hear. For example, “No, I can’t do that.”

14. Politicians are human beings, and they usually crave the path of least resistance. They wear down. They give in. They want acceptance. For all the “Look at me, me, me” that wears their constituents down, there is a strong herd mentality in this generation of elected officials.

15. When the political establishment revolves around money, the last thing you want to be is an outlier, unless you’re willing to work and to fight for everything.
Michael Miller has worked in state and local government. Email: mmillercolumn@gmail.com

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