THE CAPITOL CONNECTION: He’s tough enough to run

I told you it was coming, right? Students of Freud recall that the great psychiatrist once said that one’s character was set very early in life, maybe at four or five years of age. We know all about Andrew Cuomo’s character as it has been from his earliest years. If you want to know about the particulars, you really need to get hold of Michel Shnayerson’s biography of Cuomo, The Contender. He lays it all out. From his youngest years, Andrew lived up to the name I gave him: “Andrew Tough Guy.” As a result of his tough guy persona, the people who got to know him, well, they just didn’t like him. There are many things not to like about Andrew. First and foremost is his tendency to be a bully and nobody likes to be bullied. As in the case of other historical bullies, his enemies solidified and decided to get even with him for his behavior. I never saw anything like it. They weren’t fooling around. It sure looked like they had left him for dead on the barroom floor.

Andrew’s father, Mario, was smarter than Andrew and tended to surround himself with bright and loyal people like Drew Zambelli and David Axelrod. I have written about his brilliant health commissioner, David Axelrod, who was even smarter than Mario. If Mario liked you, he really liked you. He called Axelrod, “My David.” When I started the Legislative Gazette newspaper, I became indebted to Mario who signaled his support from the beginning by showing up for an early fund-raising party at a local bar on the very night the Senate leaders were meeting for their annual Senate get-together. Mario put himself out when he really didn’t have to.

Mario was raised poor and so he became attracted to money as a lightbulb is to a moth. The moth knows that he can be burned by the very thing that is attractive to him. So, when Mario was riding in a car by my house in Great Barrington, he allegedly said to his driver that my home is a mansion and “…I thought he just lived in a house.” For the record, my house is Not a mansion.

I am telling you all this because Andrew is signaling that he is coming back into the political fray, just, as I said he would. A recent poll showed him just a few points short of Governor Kathy Hochul in a gubernatorial head to head. So what’s that all about? Well, Andrew is interesting to people whereas Hochul has yet to convince me and a lot of other people that she is interesting. As I have said from the beginning—to the consternation of her people—she is “competent.” Her handlers may not like me calling her that because it does not paint her as exciting. Will people vote for “exciting” over “competent”? So it would seem.

Do I think that the Andrew I know so well will actually run? The answer is “maybe.” We saw him try to take on Carl McCall when McCall had the Democratic nomination for governor all sewed up. It was a stupid and greedy move and he didn’t have to make it. That should give us a clue as to what he might do under this circumstance if he thinks he’s got a shot. If history is our guide, he will do it. What’s more, even with the Democratic establishment against him he might just pull it off. Since there are still people who are out to get him, he has to evaluate whether it might be dangerous to move ahead. Put succinctly, if he thinks he can get away with it, he certainly will run and he will run now.

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