Andrew Cuomo is on Quite the Roll

My earliest memory of Andrew Cuomo was in 1982, when he was an adviser to his father Mario’s successful campaign for the state house.  Bill Haddad was the manager. The younger Cuomo suffered from a bad back at the time and I have a picture of him in my mind, lying on a rug in the dingy campaign headquarters on the West Side and participating in discussions.
You could tell then that politics was in the young man’s DNA. And he proved it in the just completed January-to-June session of the Legislature, his first as governor.
You have to hand it to him. He was highly successful. He passed much of his agenda -- quite a feat for a freshman governor.
Andrew Cuomo grew up middle class in Queens. It’s hard to pin a label on him. Like his father, he has political fire in his belly.
Certainly his accomplishments so far are most impressive: the gay marriage law and an on-time budget that closed a $9-billion deficit. Also, he bit the bullet, cutting health care and education costs and pledging to end fiscal insanity. This hardly pleased the unions that have been a bulwark of both Cuomos’ political strength -- but Cuomo insisted it was vital to the state’s future. 
He won ethics reform, involving greater disclosure of legislators’ outside income. But the new law falls short of having enough enforcement machinery. The new governor won an extension of rent control.
Eliot Spitzer promised to be “a steamroller” in his first months in office. Instead, he had to resign after a prostitution scandal. So far, Cuomo has proved to be the steamroller that Spitzer wasn’t.
One longtime liberal voice in Albany, former Assemblyman Richard Brodsky of Westchester, takes a severe view of Cuomo’s first months. He thinks Cuomo, who says he hasn’t shut the door on running for president in 2016, is playing two sides in the political game. On the one hand, says Brodsky, he has proved to be a liberal by leading the drive for a gay marriage law.  But Cuomo, says Brodsky, has also appealed to conservatives by his fiscal austerity in the fields of health and education.
Brodsky thinks it could be a prescription for running for president. Says Brodsky:  “You could call him a 'conliberal' -- that is, a cross between a conservative and a liberal.”
Yet George Arzt, a political consultant who has watched the political scene since the days of Governor Nelson Rockefeller, says: “The governor’s accomplishments are impressive. He’s had the most auspicious beginning of any governor in my experience.”  He calls Cuomo a “pragmatist.” 
When asked Monday whether he was shutting the door on running for president in 2016, Cuomo said simply: “No.”           
That could provide fuel for pundits and analysts for possibly the next five years. Yet Cuomo will put that subject on hold. As an old pro, he knows he has to concentrate on state business and the national campaign of 2012, lest he turn off voters.
Most likely, he’ll he invited to a lot of political dinners around the nation and bide his time until the 2016 season rolls around.


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