Privately, Cuomo views the buzz as an affirmation that his star is again rising. A decade ago, he withdrew from a losing gubernatorial campaign and became tabloid fodder as his marriage to Kerry Kennedy broke up. “There is no doubt he would like to be president,” says Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf. “We’ve never had an Italian Catholic as president. That will be a significant discussion.”
Cuomo, who has -tackled public-employee unions, raised taxes on the wealthiest New Yorkers. O’Malley, who has helped Maryland public schools win Education Week’s top ranking four years in a row, called a special session in May to push through a tax hike on $100,000-plus earners. Yet both recognize the limits of gov-ernment. “Where the Democratic Party failed is in not keeping up with the pace of change necessary to make public programs ever more efficient,” O’Malley says.