As crazy as the title question might sound, hear me out. This is something that was brought up on Twitter today by our friend and long-time Ed Morrissey Show participant, The Monster. And he seemed to be posing the question seriously.
“No joke: What do you think the odds are that DNC drafts Cuomo?”
Would the DNC actually move to take out Biden, ignore Sanders and do something like this? Could they? The two primary aspects to consider when weighing the question are why and how. Let’s start with the “why” first.
It’s no secret that Joe Biden is looking more and more like he’s well past his sell-by date. After his disastrous brain freeze the other day when giving his first “shadow administration” update on the pandemic, I made the case, writing, “Let’s just say it, shall we? Joe Biden is probably not okay.”
I obviously wasn’t the only person who noticed and many liberals have already lowered the bar on Biden’s viability to a level where ants can climb over it. This is an actual headline and sub-title from The Atlantic just yesterday.
Stay Alive, Joe Biden: Democrats need little from the front-runner beyond his corporeal presence.
For many Democrats, keeping Joe Biden hidden from the public as much as possible while making sure he’s still breathing is all that’s required. But if the DNC gets too nervous and feels they have to make a move, who would be the replacement? Bernie Sanders? Don’t be silly. They just finished exhausting all their forces to keep the nomination away from Bernie once again. But the other contenders have already officially dropped out. You can’t just scoop one of them up, right?
Enter New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. He’s been doing daily updates on the coronavirus pandemic in New York for quite a while now and drawing rave reviews. Heck, even I’ve been tipping my hat to him on Twitter. He’s been handling the crisis as efficiently as possible and producing results and he deserves some credit for that.
But while I have been perhaps reluctantly praising the Governor, most of the media has been fawning, if not outright swooning over Cuomo’s daily briefings and his “presidential” appearance. The New York Times is already talking about him like it’s the Second Coming. Maddow has fallen in love with him. (Well, not that way. They don’t play on the same team. But you get my drift.) And it’s not as if Cuomo himself hasn’t proposed the idea. He was teasing a 2020 presidential run for quite a while until he finally abandoned it in November of 2018.
The hashtag #PresidentCuomo has been trending on Twitter. So we’ve identified the “why” and identified a possible contender for “who.” But that still leaves the nagging question of “how” it could be accomplished.
The most obvious route (without Biden’s cooperation, which seems unlikely) would be to do it at the convention. But that would require a massive defection of Biden delegates to keep him below 50% without putting Sanders over that benchmark. Then, in the second round, the Superdelegates could flood the field and all vote for Cuomo if they could be sold on the idea.
During our social media discussion, The Monster asked if there isn’t some method for either party to remove a nominee similar to the provisions of the 25th Amendment that would allow you to remove a president. I looked but could find no such provision in their rules, though perhaps I missed something. The closest thing I could find is a never-used codicil in the DNC bylaws. Article 2, section 1 says that if the nominee dies, resigns or is otherwise unable to continue, the DNC Chair must call a meeting of the members of the committee and they can elect a replacement nominee. But there is no provision for forcibly removing the nominee if they don’t wish to go.
So it’s technically possible to do at the convention or even later if Biden agrees to drop out or otherwise can’t continue. But both paths are complicated could lead to even worse results for the Democrats if things go totally pear-shaped on them.
The last thing I’ll offer is a warning to Democrats that Cuomo’s moment in the sun recently doesn’t erase his very problematic past, so even if they were inclined to tank Uncle Joe, they might want to consider someone else. Let’s not forget that there are more skeletons in Cuomo’s closet than in your average Halloween haunted house. During his time as governor, Cuomo has been involved in so many campaign finance, fundraising and appropriation scandals that books could be written on the subject. So many of his associates, cronies and former aides are either currently in prison or avoided jail time with plea deals on things like bid-rigging that they could start their own prison baseball team. Others were convicted of bribing judges and one of his longest-serving aides who he frequently described as being “more like a brother” got six years for lining his own pockets out of a massive, failed “stimulus” scheme known as the Buffalo Billion.
Somehow, despite all of the corruption that’s been dredged up in the Cuomo administration, the Governor himself has always somehow managed to slip the noose and not be hauled in front of a judge himself. Granted, if he suddenly became the nominee, I have no doubt that CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times and the Washington Post would do their best to provide cover for him and rarely if ever, mention any of these stories. But there would be Trump advertising fodder aplenty and the word would eventually get out. That’s why I don’t think Cuomo would survive a prolonged, hard-fought campaign. The only way he might be able to win would be in a very short, ambush-style race where he showed up as the nominee at the last minute and raced to the finish line before the opposition had a chance to catch their breath.