Cuomo's explanation of the Nixon antisemitic hit piece is looking shakey

When we first learned of the dirty tricks being played on Cynthia Nixon in the New York Democratic gubernatorial primary last week, I was a bit skeptical of the idea that Governor Andrew Cuomo had cooked up or approved the poison pen mailer that went out to many Jewish families in New York. My reasoning was that the guy is leading by more than 40 points in the most recent polls. Why take the risk of such an obvious, underhanded ploy when it was obviously going to backfire? But as more information has come out, it appears that I might have been a bit too generous towards Cuomo.

First, there was the news that Cuomo has been burning through his campaign war chest to the tune of half a million dollars a day, fighting like a guy in a tight race that he might lose. And now the local press has revealed a series of text messages coming from someone senior in the Cuomo campaign urging them to write about the alleged antisemitic record of Cynthia Nixon just as the mailers were going out. (New York Post)

Gov. Cuomo said he was blind-sided by an “inappropriate” political mailer tying Cynthia Nixon to anti-Semitism — but just a day before the inflammatory literature surfaced, one of his top campaign aides pitched a story about the primary challenger’s opposition to Israeli settlements.

The attempt to tar the former “Sex and the City” star over the divisive issue was made in an email to a Post reporter that casts doubt about Cuomo’s repeated claims he had nothing to do with the 11th-hour hit-job.

The smoking-gun email, sent Friday afternoon from an official “” account, suggested that The Post publish a story about Nixon’s support of the pro-Palestinian “Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions” movement against Israel…

“Obviously something you guys have reported on a lot and right before the jewish high holidays!”

“Can get you folks on the record slamming her as well,” the aide added.

Originally, they found somebody at the state Democratic Party office to fall on their sword and take the blame for the mailer. And to be clear, that’s definitely where the mailer came from. But the bigger question was whether or not the Governor was involved in or at least aware of the decision, or if he was truly “blindsided” by it as he claimed. That email to reporters didn’t come from the party office. It came from a high ranking campaign official using an mail account. The same goes for the various text messages.

For their part, the Governor’s office isn’t denying they sent out the information. In fact, they’re standing by the information as being accurate and complaining that the Post published an off the record exchange between the campaign and reporters. (Just for the record, they’re right about that part. It is a breach of normal protocol for reporters.) But what are the chances that somebody on Cuomo’s staff fired off such an inflammatory missive without getting the boss to approve it? Possible, but given Cuomo’s penchant for micromanagement, unlikely. And what are the odds that the aide would “coincidentally” send that out on the same day that the state party was sending out a mailer on the same topic? Coincidences are rare at best in American politics and this one defies belief.

Add to that this additional report of the long history of dirty tricks the Cuomo family has engaged in. Ed Koch believed for his entire life that Andrew Cuomo was responsible for a series of posters going up in Queens back in the 70s suggesting that Koch was gay. I particularly like the Mark Twain quote the author came up with. “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.”

While it may never be proven 100%, it certainly looks like Cuomo at least knew about this scheme and probably approved it. But that leaves us with the same question I had this weekend. Why? It’s a stupid risk to take for a race that you already have in the bag and should win by at least 30 points. But none of this has stopped Cynthia Nixon from believing that a miracle is going to happen tomorrow. Here’s her most recent tweet on the subject.