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November 19, 2012 12:55 PM Opening Shot of the 2016 Democratic Nomination Campaign?

By Ed Kilgore

Last week I suggested there were some suppressed divisions in the Democratic Party which will eventually emerge, if not sooner then later, and that the shape of the 2016 presidential nominating contest might influence (and be influenced by) these divisions.

Today we saw one early example of an unfriendly ideological take on a potential ‘16er, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, from Salon’s Alex Pareene. Alex played off Cuomo’s less-than-aggressive role in the Democratic battle to get control of the New York Senate to open up a more general complaint about Mario Cuomo’s son, under the provocative headline, “Andrew Cuomo: Fake Democrat”:

[I]f Republicans get their [State Senate] majority, with the tacit support of Cuomo, the governor will have once again shown that he is not the progressive figure he will likely try to sell himself as if he runs for president. His tenure so far has been marked by flashy liberal victories on issues like gay marriage, along with a quietly conservative economic agenda: A property tax cap, total neglect of mass transit, and (partial) support for fracking. Even on economic issues where Cuomo has more liberal priorities, he rarely pushes his Republican friends particularly hard. (A Republican-controlled state Senate will almost certainly block a minimum wage increase Cuomo ostensibly supports.) There’s a reason, in other words, that the National Review loves him.
Cuomo doesn’t hide his conservative tendencies — they’re part of his sales pitch, especially upstate and outside New York City — but he’s in an enviable position of being able to run and govern as a conservative while retaining a progressive reputation, because he’s, you know, a Cuomo and a big-city blue state liberal governor who got gay marriage passed. His response to Sandy has raised his national profile even more, and barring the sort of disastrous scandals that have sunk the last couple of New York governors, he’ll keep being mentioned whenever people bring up 2016 candidates until the day he announces his intentions. But Democrats ought to know what sort of Democrat he is. If Cuomo allows Republicans to subvert the will of the voters of New York, so that he has an easier time cutting taxes and rolling back regulations, he shouldn’t be allowed to sell himself to future primary voters as a progressive.

There are other issues with Cuomo that ideological concerns may mask but quietly reflect, notably his insider rep as a pol who has managed to earn a reputation for unusual levels of egomania in a profession where that malady is legion (haven’t heard any fresh examples for a while; maybe his girlfriend Sandra Lee has calmed him down). But like it or not, presidential considerations are going to begin affecting how Democrats react to possible candidates, and if the son of a famous liberal is regularly accused of “triangulating,” we’re going to hear about it a lot.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

Comments

  • dr. bloor on November 19, 2012 1:10 PM:

    Cuomo is raw ambition in a suit, and the closest thing the Dems have to Mitt Romney.

  • c u n d gulag on November 19, 2012 1:16 PM:

    I can't stand the SOB, but I voted for him.

    He's a DINO.

    And very, very, far cry from his father.

    The NYer I'd like to see run, is Kirsten Gillibrand.

  • lizabet on November 19, 2012 1:26 PM:

    can a divorced man with a live-in lover seriously consider a run for the presidency? am asking this as a serious question

  • Ronald on November 19, 2012 1:26 PM:

    Being from 'upstate', I concur- Cuomo is far to cozy with the Republicans for my progressive tastes.
    I understand that he has to put some things aside in order to work with Albany (notoriously more stonewalled than even our current Congress), and would likely 'etch-a-sketch' his views back towards the left (if he runs), but the idea doesn't make me very comfortable.
    I'm with c u n d- Gillibrand would be a fantastic choice. Progressive, well regarded, intelligent.

  • max on November 19, 2012 1:27 PM:

    along with a quietly conservative economic agenda: A property tax cap, total neglect of mass transit, and (partial) support for fracking.

    Tendencies in that vein from the Clinton administration, were precisely why I was willing to support Obama over Clinton. Given the situation now, I'm certainly willing to support Clinton over Cuomo. Or Biden over Cuomo. Or O'Malley over Cuomo. Or 'why even bother, we're screwed' over Cuomo.

    Bring me the Hillary, I need to keep the fruitcakes away from the bomb, and I do not need Wall Street pissing down my neck while trying to do so.

    max
    ['Bleh.']

  • ajw93 (@ajw93) on November 19, 2012 1:48 PM:

    The idea of Governor Andy on a national ticket makes me very, very nervous. From here in Albany itself, I'm with c u n d gulag and Ronald.

    Also, seriously, would he have to break up with or marry the First Lady-Friend? I wonder about that too.

  • KK on November 19, 2012 2:14 PM:

    Nice to see someone put down in print what I say every time you mention that snake on this blog. He is a fargin R in D clothes. The property tax cap was straight out of Harold Jarvisville. A stupid idea that has reeked havoc on Ca and it is starting to hurt here. I gut out wonderful NY and its fast and furious life in part for the great public schools and beaches. Looks like ill have neither very soon. Two faced jerk off with a temper and ego, an awful combo.

  • Peter C on November 19, 2012 2:27 PM:

    We need to work on 2014 first.

    We'd be better served to pay more attention at this point to policy than personality.

    I also think our country could do with fewer 'dynasty' politicians; that seems an unhealthy tendency to me.

  • TCinLA on November 19, 2012 3:05 PM:

    The last time there was a governor from New York who had anything relevant to say to the country as a whole was when FDR ran for President in 1932. Both Cuomos are the Democratic equivalent of Tom Dewey.

    I wouldn't vote for a New Yorker on a national ticket the same way I will never vote for a Texan.

  • KK on November 19, 2012 3:43 PM:

    Now now TC, lets stay away from regional wars. I learned that lesson a few weeks ago. We have some nice progressives along with our R's dressed as D's. FDR has a legacy here.

  • James E. Powell on November 19, 2012 4:02 PM:

    Cuomo and anyone else who wants the 2016 Democratic nomination should have learned at least one thing from the Clinton/Obama primaries: the Democratic base is paying attention and will hold you accountable for what you do and say. Clinton lost that nomination because she voted for the invasion of Iraq. She completely alienated a very large portion of the people who are active in caucuses and primaries.

    For anyone wanting the nomination in 2016, I would be looking for a Democratic leader who is can do something for the 2014 midterms. And I mean more than win re-election. Be a loud and proud advocate for Democratic issues and programs. Do something to help take back the house. Stand up for wage-earners. Take the lead on the implementation of Obamacare, immigration reform, climate change.

  • Mimikatz on November 19, 2012 4:34 PM:

    I'm not very fond of Cuomo either. I'd even take Hillary over him, though my preferenceis for someone younger. I do like the idea of Hillary running for a single term with a VP who could then run in 2020. But is the country ready for Hillary and Kirsten Gillibrnd on a ticket?

  • Rabbler on November 19, 2012 6:32 PM:

    Was there even one day in transition from 2012 to 2016 mode, on which it was acceptable for the true progressive allegiances of moderates to be questioned? Lockstep and preemption apparently aren't only for the right. They are also tools for the center.

  • Eric Riback on November 19, 2012 8:11 PM:

    *Tacit* support? He endorsed, mailed and robocalled for the incumbent Republican senator in my district. The Democrat won, but only because there was a Conservative party candidate who got enough votes to bury the Republican.