No matter how impressed you may or may not be with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s daily briefings on the coronavirus situation, the love festival for this guy is getting a bit out of hand. I’m still seeing the #PresidentCuomo hashtag trending on Twitter on and off and most of the hosts at both CNN and MSNBC have clearly fallen in love with the guy. But are there bigger things awaiting him on the horizon? We previously discussed one oddball theory proposing that the DNC dump Joe Biden and replace him with Cuomo. I pointed out several reasons why that was both impractical and problematic.
Now, however, another plot seems to be emerging. If they can’t get rid of Biden before the convention (or after), perhaps Uncle Joe can pluck Cuomo out of the Empire State and set him up as his pick for Vice President. Then, either in 2024 or before (if Joe somehow can’t go the distance), Cuomo would be the POTUS-in-waiting. Over at the New York Post, Bob McManus discusses why Joe couldn’t possibly pick Cuomo and how it would be a bad idea if he tried.
Let’s first look at the veep speculation from the governor’s perspective: His political instincts are as acute as anyone’s, so he doubtless knows that the instant politics pops up, the wheels fall off the Cuomo-as-calm-crisis-navigator wagon.
And then there goes the rationale for his even being in the conversation. His star could set as quickly as it rose. So why would the governor want that?
After all, he is only 62, solidly positioned in a party now dominated by superannuated fixtures on one side, and earnest-but-untested strivers on the other. Given that Biden, now 77, very likely would be a one-termer, next time around has to be looking pretty good to Cuomo.
If nothing else, waiting would give him time to achieve a goal denied his father, Mario, a fourth term, and thence perhaps to the top of the ticket in 2024.
McManus makes a number of good points about not only why Biden shouldn’t pick Cuomo, but why Cuomo would probably be crazy to accept the offer if he did. While some may find Cuomo’s “star to be rising” at the moment, it could just as easily crash and burn. It’s nowhere near a sure thing that Biden will win in November at this point and being the number two person on a losing POTUS ticket isn’t exactly the beginning of a road to political glory.
But let’s imagine for a moment that Biden was thinking about this. Keep in mind that he already promised to pick a woman for his running mate. Preferably either a Black or Hispanic woman who is considerably younger. (If somebody could comb through their contact list and come up with a black lesbian in her forties he could have the hat trick.) So what happens to the significant portion of the base that lives and dies by identity politics if Joe goes back on his promise and instead delivers yet another straight white dude who is old enough to collect Social Security? The phrase conniption fit comes to mind. A bunch of them are already seething over Bernie Sanders being shoved aside anyway and that would be a bridge too far.
Even if Biden ignores all of that and picks Cuomo anyway, there will still be months of campaigning left to do. I already pointed this out in the previous article I mentioned above, but the oppo research file on Andrew Cuomo is about as thick as a Manhattan phone directory. (At least back in the days when we still had phone books, anyway.) Go back and read the second to last paragraph.
Cuomo hasn’t exactly had a squeaky clean record since becoming governor and a significant number of his former aides, donors and other cronies are either serving time in prison, awaiting sentencing, on trial or have already been released. How he managed to avoid an arrest warrant all of this time remains a mystery, but let’s just say it’s not a pretty picture. Nobody wants to be so rude as to bring all of that garbage related to “The Buffalo Billion” up while the Governor is in the midst of dealing with the pandemic, which is understandable. That’s why he’s looking so popular at the moment. But if you put him in the running for a national race it will all come rushing back.
So for all of the Cuomo cheerleaders out there, enjoy the daily briefings to your heart’s content. He’s doing a pretty good job and I’ve given him plenty of credit myself. But trying to leverage the moment he’s having into a better Democratic Party outcome in November – no matter how you do it – is not something I see happening.