‘Chicken’ Cuomo will keep on dodging
New Yorkers are about to discover whether chickens can fly.
Gov. Cuomo and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who have been flipping the bird to voters who expect re-election-year debates, underwent coerced changes of heart over the weekend — well done, New York Post front page — and will debate their opponents after all.
Cuomo sits down with Republican Marc Molinaro on Tuesday afternoon; Gillibrand with the GOP’S Chele Farley on Thursday.
Alas, Democratic attorney general candidate Letitia James was still refusing a debate last night.
On the other hand, her principal language is prog-jargon, so no important information stands to be lost there.
Not that Cuomo and Gillibrand won’t be slippin’ and slidin’ too — for there is considerable risk in candid debates.
Imagine the discomfort if moderators got tough and leveled straightforward questions like these:
- “Sen. Gillibrand, what have you accomplished in eight years sitting in Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s Senate seat that remotely justifies the presidential candidacy you’re contemplating and everybody won’t stop talking about?”
- “Ms. James, what have you accomplished in your entire career that warrants elevation to attorney general?”
The honest answer in each case would be: “Nothing.” And not just nothing, but absolutely nothing. Their records are as barren as the surface of the Moon — so small wonder that they’ve been ducking exposure.
Ah, but Cuomo has an extensive — some would say notorious — record, so it’s also no surprise that he’s been laboring so hard lately to keep himself in the shadows.
Oh, sure, it’s hard to avoid the yammering about the stuff he likes — gun control, gay marriage, “sustainability” and such — because he started the campaign with a staggering $30 million in the bank and seems on track to spend every dime driving home the details.
It’s the other stuff — the interesting stuff, the stuff that would be discussed in a competently conducted debate — that he’s hell-bent to keep hidden. Stuff like:
- The Post report over the weekend that a major Cuomo campaign donor — to the apparent exclusion of outsiders — just won a big chunk of a $1 billion redevelopment contract at Belmont Park on Long Island.
- The news from the Gannett News Service last week that Cuomo has raised some $100 million in campaign cash over the past eight years — mountains of it from firms and individuals with business before the state — by exploiting a gaping loophole in New York’s campaign-finance laws.
- The expanding investigation of the Cuomo administration’s relationship with one of the state’s largest health-care companies, Crystal Run, which the Albany Times-Union says saw state-regulation bottlenecks evaporate following highly dubious campaign contributions.
- The continuing legal dramas of former top gubernatorial aide Joseph Percoco and longtime Cuomo administration fixture go-to innovator-developer Alain Kaloyeros, convicted in separate kickback scandals that have been an administration hallmark.
To be sure, Percoco and Kaloyeros are old news. But they are on their way to prison, a shocking destination for gubernatorial aides of their former rank — and the details of their disgrace provide necessary context for any discussion of, say, the Belmont bid, the Crystal Run case and whatever else might be lurking in the Albany weeds.
And then there are the policy issues that need to be part of any professionally supervised debate. These include:
- The accelerating deterioration of the New York City mass-transit system, particularly its subways, which the governor blames on Mayor de Blasio (of course he does) — but which may well turn out to be the greatest failure of his entire incumbency, however long it lasts.
The fact is that the subways are part of the MTA, which is the governor’s legal responsibility, no matter how much he shirks it. Case closed.
- The economic catastrophe upstate, which is hemorrhaging population. Cuomo’s plan was to pump a billion dollars into Buffalo, with most of it landing in Elon Musk’s corporate accounts, and the principal result has been Kaloyeros’ corruption conviction. Good luck to the debate moderator who tries to tease out the details.
Actually, good luck to the moderators who try to tease anything substantive from Andrew Cuomo — one of New York’s more accomplished political filibusterers. They’ll discover, if they don’t already know, that credit for everything the governor likes accrues to him — and sole blame for all failures belongs to Donald Trump.
Expect to hear the president’s name a lot.
Bob McManus is a contributing editor to the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal.
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