Here Are the Democrats Who May Run to Replace Cuomo
On Wednesday, a day after Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced his resignation, New York woke up to the prospect of a future without him for the first time in more than a decade. Across the state, Democrats have acted urgently to fill the void created by the absence of a man who has spent years seeking full control over their party.
At the State Capitol in Albany, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul held her first press conference as a pending governor, sending a message about the importance of maintaining continuity of government. Democrats buzzed in private conversations about who she might name to her squad, as she pledged a “renewal” in Mr Cuomo’s administration after his disgraced resignation.
Many people have expressed hope for a stronger working relationship between the executive and the legislature, after a period in which Mr. Cuomo – who has never shied away from using bullying as a tactic – often had toxic or non-existent relationships with state lawmakers and sought to rule on its own terms instead.
“This is a time of great opportunity for the executive and, frankly, the state government to reset,” said State Senator Shelley B. Mayer, a Democrat from Yonkers. “Culturally, it’s an opportunity to start from scratch.”
But with a chance for a fresh start once Mr. Cuomo officially leaves in less than two weeks, many Democrats were already focusing much more deeply on the schedule.
In New York City, Long Island, and across the state, conversations among donors, campaigners and party strategists about next year’s governor’s race have gathered pace, now that it’s clear the contest isn’t. not involve challenging Mr. Cuomo and his dreaded War Chest in a primary.
The race begins with Ms. Hochul very likely to run for a full term, with the notable benefits of tenure.
She has already hired two political strategists with extensive New York and national experience: Meredith Kelly, who has worked for the state’s two Democratic senators, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, and has held other senior national political positions. rank ; and Trey Nix, a campaign veteran who was also a member of the Democratic Governors Association. Their hiring underscores Ms Hochul’s seriousness about her candidacy for governor next year.
She is a skilled fundraiser and will certainly attract many new donors as she ascends. She has spent years roaming the state. And now, with Ms Hochul on the cusp of becoming New York’s first female governor, many Democrats are inclined to give her time to get comfortable with her job, keen to find ways to collaborate and collaborate. moving forward after the chaotic final months of Mr. Cuomo’s tenure.
That barely means she’ll clear the pitch before the primary next year.
“I suspect it will take a while for it to gain a foothold in the new job, and other potential Democratic candidates will not jump in immediately,” said Kathryn Wylde, head of the New York City Partnership, a group influential business. “I guess there will be a lot of potential candidates, and how many of them actually pull the trigger will depend on what she appears to be doing over the next few months.”
Ms Hochul, who is generally seen as a relative moderate, is likely to be scrutinized by potential candidates both to her left and to her right politically, gauging not only her fundraising strength and achievements in power, but also if, in their view, it is politically in tune with the grassroots of the Democratic Party.
There is a long list of politicians considering running for governor, a group that could ultimately include local, state and federal lawmakers with varying degrees of notoriety and fundraising prowess.
Some Democrats have suggested that candidates for this year’s New York mayoral race, including Kathryn Garcia, the party’s primary finalist, and even current city mayor Bill de Blasio could also explore a race. . (For his part, Mr. Cuomo went out of his way to protect his legacy and future in his resignation speech.)
Right now, the most important question on the minds of strategists, donors, political observers and even some potential candidates is whether Letitia James, the attorney general, will come forward.
“She and now Kathy will be the two people that everyone is watching, to see how they’re doing and what they’re going to do,” Ms. Wylde said.
Ms James, whose office released the scorching report that documented allegations of sexual harassment against Mr Cuomo and ended his tenure as governor, gave no indication that she was planning to run for anything other than ‘a re-election. And she hasn’t been known as a prolific fundraiser.
But her allies believe that given her stature as the first woman of color in New York City to hold a statewide post – and her ability to attract black voters across the ideological spectrum as well as some white progressives – she has the time to assess the landscape and make a decision.
“It’s considered an open seat,” said State Senator John C. Liu, a Democrat from Queens. “Obviously, it will come together at some point, and a lot of it will depend on what our beloved Attorney General wants to do. I hope she will run for governor.
In the meantime, his supporters are struggling to keep his options open.
L. Joy Williams, a Democratic strategist and ally of Ms James, noted that a number of governors, including Mr Cuomo, had arrived at the post of the attorney general’s office.
“It is naive to think that she couldn’t do the same, except with a larger coalition and energy behind her campaign, if she decides to run,” Ms. Williams said.
Left, Jumaane D. Williams, the New York City public attorney who led an unsuccessful primary against Ms Hochul in 2018, has had several conversations this year about a possible candidacy for a senior position.
He is believed to be considering a gubernatorial bid and could make an announcement on his intentions in the coming weeks, according to a political adviser to Mr Williams, who stressed that Mr Williams is now focusing more on a transition in sweetness to Mrs. Williams. Hochul.
While Mr Williams openly expressed his belief that Mr Cuomo needed a main challenger, there were plenty of other Democrats who were less likely to have challenged the incumbent governor. They can now see the race differently, though the prospect of running against New York’s first female governor could introduce a new complicating factor.
Several Democratic politicians with close ties to Long Island, an area Mr Cuomo won overwhelmingly in his 2018 primary, are said to be open to a race.
Thomas P. DiNapoli, the state comptroller, did not rule out an offer. Rep. Thomas Suozzi has had calls and meetings over the possibility of a race, although his focus is now on negotiations in Congress on the federal deduction for state and local taxes.
Steven Bellone, the Suffolk County executive, is strongly considering a gubernatorial candidacy next year, according to a person close to him who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the internal deliberations. This person noted that Mr. Bellone had recently hired a high dollar value fundraiser. Michael R. Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, recently donated $ 50,000 to Mr. Bellone’s executive campaign, according to campaign finance records.
Richard Ravitch, a former lieutenant governor, said he predicted Ms Hochul would offer a significant break with Mr Cuomo’s often earthy style, and that his success in moving the state forward would be a vital factor in shaping the landscape. of the 2022 race.
“Whether or not another candidate emerges will depend solely on Kathy Hochul’s ability to breach governance and change the image of what Cuomo has created,” he said, adding that he had long believed to be one of M. Cuomo’s challenges were a lack of allies.
“It’s very difficult to be successful when you’re in trouble and you don’t have friends,” Ravitch said. “I think Kathy Hochul will have friends.”
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