One man's been running without running. The other's been running without anyone noticing. It's the non-campaign that could soon take Center Stage in new York Politics.
Let's begin with the man who's not running. That would be Andrew Cuomo, the immensely popular Attorney General, leading all challengers in just about every poll you can think of. Except, if you ask Cuomo, he'll say only that he's focused on his job as AG.
Then, there's the man no one's noticing. That would be Rick Lazio, who many remember from his failed run for Senate against Hilary Clinton a decade ago. This time around, Lazio should have a wide-open path to Albany against an unpopular governor. Except it's been hard to get much attention amid the state's budget crisis.
Today, Lazio tried to break through, accusing Cuomo of hiding in a "foxhole" while Albany burns. Cuomo didn't take the bait. But there is a building question of how much longer he'll be able to stay on the sidelines. According to the latest fundraising figures, Cuomo holds an enormous cash advantage over incumbent Gov. David Paterson. Yet Paterson is the only declared Democrat in the race, and Cuomo hasn't given any indication he'll challenge Paterson in a primary. So that leaves the lesser-known Republican attacking the guy who isn't running.
For his part, Cuomo's office released the following statement: "While the Conservative Party politicians have started their campaigns, the Attorney General is focused on his public service representing the people of the State by fighting corruption and greed on Wall Street and rooting out waste and abuse in government,"said Richard Bamberger, the Communications Director of the AG office.
With election day just nine months away and the primary a mere seven, many analysts expect Cuomo will become an actual candidate within the next eight weeks.