More talk of Governor Andrew Cuomo seeking the presidency in 2020 has been fueled by the governor’s decisive victory over a candidate from the progressive left of his party. But the governor still says he’s only running for a third term to lead New York State.
Cuomo beat actor and education advocate Cynthia Nixon by a two-to-one margin in the September 13 primary, and he has a double digit lead against his Republican challenger in the polls.
Cuomo has not talked about his political opponents so far in the general election campaign. He has instead focused on President Trump, and the President’s policies that the governor disagrees with. Cuomo, at a rally on Tuesday in New York City, says Trump has “declared war” on New York.
“New York will be the leader of the resistance,” Cuomo declared. “We will say to this President, ‘We are better as a people than you think we are.’”
Cuomo says changes in the federal tax code that no longer allow the deduction of state and local income taxes hurts New Yorkers, where local taxes are relatively high. He says Trump’s policies also pose threats to the rights of women to choose abortion, immigrants, and LGBTQ people.
Using Trump as a foil helped Cuomo win the Democratic primary, and many independent voters are also not fans of the President.
But Cuomo’s political adversaries see the tactic in a different light. Republican State Party Chair Ed Cox says Cuomo is setting himself up to run for President.
“He’s running, to really be President the United States,” said Cox. “He wants to go where his father didn’t go.”
Mario Cuomo was governor for three terms, and considered running for President, though he ultimately decided not to. The elder Cuomo lost his fourth bid to be governor.
“That’s why his politics are going to the progressive socialist kind of level,” Cox said of Andrew Cuomo. “Because that’s where his nation party has gone.”
Cuomo enacted a phase in to a $15 minimum wage, and paid family leave and recently said he’d favor legalizing recreational marijuana.
Cox says Cuomo should be spending more time thinking about what’s best for New Yorkers over the next four years.
GOP candidate for governor Marc Molinaro says Cuomo’s focus on Trump is a diversionary tactic for a governor who does not want to talk about his own eight-year record in office, and the recent bribery and bid rigging convictions of several former associates. He calls Cuomo a “deranged wizard of Oz”.
“‘Pay no attention to the corruption in my administration. Look over there, it’s Donald Trump,’” Molinaro said.
Cuomo is not at the top of any national list for potential presidential contenders. Earlier this year, the Washington Post listed Cuomo number 11 and number 12 on the list of top 15 candidates, well behind Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, and former Vice President Joe Biden.
A CNN ranking since the New York primary does not mention Cuomo, but does rank highly California Senator Kamala Harris.
The governor has never said he wants to seek the presidency. During an August debate with Nixon broadcast on CBS2 in New York City, he appeared to unequivocally say that he’s only focused on running for governor again. Cuomo was asked by the moderator if he could promise voters that he would not run for president and that, if elected, he would spend the next four years as governor of New York.
“Yes and yes, double yes,” Cuomo said. “I’m running for governor of New York.”
There’s just one condition, though, Cuomo said. He said the only caveat is “if God strikes me dead.”
But that has not stopped the speculation.