The editorial board at the New York Times says it's not endorsing in the Democratic primary for governor of New York. In a lengthy editorial, the Times writes that the sitting governor, Democrat Andrew Cuomo, "broke his most important promise" to root out corruption in the Empire State. The paper had endorsed Cuomo in his first run for governor in 2010. Here's an excerpt from Thursday's non-endorsement:
More than four years ago, while announcing his campaign for governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo stood in front of the Tweed Courthouse in downtown Manhattan and said Albany’s antics “could make Boss Tweed blush.”
New York had had enough corruption, he said, and he was going to put a stop to it. “Job 1 is going to be to clean up Albany,” he said, “and make the government work for the people.”
Mr. Cuomo became governor on that platform and recorded several impressive achievements, but he failed to perform Job 1. The state government remains as subservient to big money as ever, and Mr. Cuomo resisted and even shut down opportunities to fix it. Because he broke his most important promise, we have decided not to make an endorsement for the Democratic primary on Sept. 9.
While the Times doesn't outright endorse his primary challenger, professor and activist Zephyr Teachout, the paper suggests Democratic primary voters give Teachout their votes in protest. The refusal to endorse comes as several influential groups, including the New York State AFL-CIO, are holding off on endorsing Cuomo.
The governor isn't expected to lose the September 9 primary, but it remains to be seen how strong—or weak—his Democratic support is following reports that federal prosecutors are investigating Cuomo and his office over its interaction with a anticorruption commission Cuomo himself set up. Some allege the governor's office improperly interfered with the commission's investigations into firms and people close to Cuomo and that eventually Cuomo shut down the commission earlier than planned to avoid further scrutiny.
“He puts together an anticorruption commission and corrupts it,” Rob Astorino recently told THE WEEKLY STANDARD. “That tells you everything you need to know about New York.”
Astorino is the Republican candidate for governor, and although he isn't likely to earn endorsements from the unions or the New York Times, the Westchester County executive is hoping to capitalize on Cuomo's corruption woes to pull off the upset win of the year. Here's more from this week's issue:
Astorino hopes “Cuomogate” will prompt voters to stop simply “rolling their eyes” and realize how widespread and expensive the problem has become. “The corruption is, in many ways, paid for by the average New Yorker in a stealth corruption tax,” he says. “The slimy deals they cut for themselves in Albany have to be paid for. Who pays for that? We all do in higher taxes, a poorer business climate.”
Astorino needs the anticorruption message to resonate not just in the conservative upstate region but also the New York City suburbs, where residents are paying their “corruption” tax through, among other things, high property taxes. Between 2008 and 2012, property tax rates increased by more than 28 percent statewide but by 35 to 40 percent in the suburban New York counties. Democrats have recently had success in these counties—Westchester, Rockland, and Orange, and Nassau and Suffolk on Long Island—but only marginally. Cuomo in 2010 and Eliot Spitzer in 2006 won the New York suburbs handily, but in 2012 Barack Obama won most of these areas by only a couple percentage points.
While Democrats have had a loose hold on the suburbs, the GOP can’t win statewide elections without them. The only Republican governor of New York since the 1970s, George Pataki, won all five major suburban counties, and with them, he was elected three times. Pataki didn’t have to win New York City, and neither does Astorino. “The battle is in the upstate and in the suburbs,” he says. His model is similar to the one Pataki used in his successful 1994 challenge to Andrew Cuomo’s father Mario; Astorino says it was encouragement from his mentor Pataki that finally pushed him to run.
“We had breakfast in December,” Astorino tells me. “He said, ‘I don’t know where your head’s at, but I’m here to convince you that you should run and you can win.’ ”
Read the whole thing here.