New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo managed to escape an significant — even measurable — level of media scrutiny in the wake of his government’s decision to disband an anti-corruption panel. Many speculate that this move was prompted by that commission’s decision to investigate Cuomo’s government.
We all know why New York’s Democratic governor did not get the Chris Christie treatment from the press, but that does not mean he has entirely escaped the scorn of the Fourth Estate. On Tuesday, The New York Times editorial board made its endorsement in the upcoming Democratic primary in the race for governor of the Empire State: no one.
“The state government remains as subservient to big money as ever, and Mr. Cuomo resisted and even shut down opportunities to fix it,” The Times editorial read. “Because he broke his most important promise, we have decided not to make an endorsement.”
The Times did not endorse Cuomo’s opponent, Fordham University associate professor Zephyr Teachout, but seemed to welcome a strong showing from her in the race against Cuomo. The editorial board said that “a shake-up is overdue,” and a challenge from Cuomo’s left may provide one.
The impression one gets from reading the editorial that it was not Cuomo’s apparently corrupt decision to disband this corruption panel that has so irked The Times editorial board, but his pattern of governing from the center-left rather than the extreme left on the issue of reforming campaign financing to create an entirely public system.
“Mr. Cuomo proposed a better system, but, when legislators balked, he threw up his hands and claimed there was nothing he could do. Where was the energy and determination he showed on marriage rights and guns?” the editorial asked.
Mr. Cuomo says the purpose of the commission was the leverage it gave him to push an ethics law through the Legislature and he disbanded the panel when the law, agreed to in March, achieved roughly nine of 10 goals. But the missing goal – a strong public finance system that cut off unlimited donations – was always, by far, the most important method of reducing corruption, a much bigger reform than the strengthened bribery laws he settled for.
“The state remains as subservient to big money as ever,” the editorial lamented, “and Mr. Cuomo even resisted and even shut down opportunities to fix it.”
“Ms. Teachout brings a refreshing seriousness to the job of cleaning up state government, making a strong case for the urgency of rescuing politics from unchecked corporate power,” The Times editorial board added. “Having walked away from his most important goals, [Cuomo] should not be surprised if many Democrats walk away from him on Sept. 9.”
New York State’s National Organization for Women went a step further than the Times and endorsed Teachout outright on Tuesday. The attention the left-wing candidate is getting from influential groups is likely to help Teachout, but probably not enough to matter by Election Day. A Quinnipiac poll from August 14 – 17 found that 85 percent of New York’s Democratic voters had not heard enough about Teachout to have any opinion about the candidate. While she may be all the rage in liberal circles of influence, the unknown professor remains a mystery to voters.
But there’s never been anything like a losing cause to get the left excited.