Governor Andrew Cuomo at Bethel Woods in the summer of 2019 to promote The Catskills Challenge.
Governor Andrew Cuomo's popularity in New York State for a decade and particularly for most of the past year had many talking him up as a future President. But that popularity has taken a dramatic nosedive that will be very difficult to overcome.
Taken alone, either the nursing home fiasco (see today's NY Times and The Wall Street Journal) or the stream of sexual harassment allegations would be reason enough for many elected officials to realize that it's difficult, if not impossible, to govern effectively while facing swirling investigations and the loss of confidence among colleagues in both parties
But most of all, he is rapidly losing or has already lost the the trust of New Yorkers, even those like me who voted for him more than once.
And let's not forget that the Governor remains under investigations that began nearly three years ago by the U.S. Attorney's Office (Southern District of New York) and Orange County District Attorney.
For those who may not recall, that's the little alleged pay-to-play deal - $400,000 in campaign contributions from Crystal Run Healthcare leaders allegedly in exchange for $25 million in state funding for two Crystal Run facilities in Rockland County. Crystal Run Healthcare CEO Hal Teitelbaum is a long time Town of Bethel resident
The SullivanTimes also this week posted a video of Andrew Cuomo's 2014 appearance at Bethel Woods in which he touted the planned future opening of Resorts World Catskills. In that video, Cuomo twice made offensive statements about Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, including a comment that "she doesn't kiss me like that and I know her name." (The video is the official video from Cuomo's office on YouTube).
His alleged bullying behavior towards Queens Assemblyman Ronald Kim, a fellow Democrat, that surfaced in recent weeks is also quite disturbing when you consider that Kim was reportedly targeted because he criticized Cuomo about the questionable nursing home data.
As someone who covered former Governor Mario Cuomo as a cub reporter in Albany during 1983 - and also while he was Lt. Governor in 1982 - I have always had a fondness for him. It was Mario Cuomo who literally saved a little student-run newspaper initiated by SUNY New Paltz called The Legislative Gazette. The paper's editor was my mentor, Glenn Doty, former managing editor of The Times Herald-Record, and my political science professor, Dr. Alan Chartock, who continues to have a close relationship with Andrew Cuomo and has him on a guest regularly on WAMC.
So, when Andrew was elected to Attorney General and later as Governor, I believed that he would follow in the footsteps of his father who I admired greatly: a commitment to progressive values and integrity. Andrew passed the first test and has, over the past decade, accomplished much on behalf of many New Yorkers who had been left behind.
But on the ethical behavior front - whether it's about his unwelcome advances on female staffers or the latest news that he/his inner circle allegedly forced the Department of Health to change information on nursing homes to give him political cover - it's becoming increasingly clear that he has failed to lead. And, it's likely that in a few hours or a few days or a few weeks, more of his Democratic colleagues will call for his resignation if they want to be seen as leaders who stay true to the values the party wants to uphold.
Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul may not be well known statewide - but she is smart and capable and can easily serve out the remainder of his term, without questions about her integrity.
That's critical in the middle of this pandemic when information from ANY governor has to be trusted to help save lives.
And better for Democrats to deal with the Cuomo thorn in their side now instead of waiting. That's because any Democrat in Albany or Sullivan or anywhere in the state risks their own future electability if they are incapable of separating their allegiance to the Democratic party vs allegiance to Cuomo. The idea of putting party (or the state) first before the person is something Dems have been correctly reminding Republicans about during former President Trump's administration.
Andrew Cuomo must do the right thing and step down for the good of all New Yorkers, that he always says he cares about most.
The nursing home scandal is Reason #1 but the behavior towards women is equally important because governors are supposed to be role models. Cuomo has lost much credibility as an advocate for women in light of the latest allegations. And he's certainly lost credibility as an advocate for the elderly based on the latest news reports and the scathing report issued by Attorney General Letitia James.
Many will continue to defend Cuomo and will tout some of his legislative accomplishments pre-Covid and even some achievements during this horrific pandemic. History will record those appropriately.
But it's clear that the weight of the nursing home scandal and allegations from three women - and too much time spent on damage control - are consuming the energy and resources of the Executive Chamber that still needs to focus on saving precious lives and rebuilding a broken economy.
Let's hope he comes to his senses about his behavior and departs soon, for the good of the party, but more importantly, for the future of New York State. - Rich Klein (Editor/Publisher)