Monday, December 22, 2014

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NY1 Political Director Bob Hardt's daily look Inside City Hall.

NY1 ItCH: Who Plays Robin to Albany's Batman?

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As the state's political attention turns to Long Island where Andrew Cuomo will be re-nominated for governor tomorrow, it's still unclear whose name will be next to his on the ballot in November. Political conventions typically abhor suspense or spontaneity so it's a bit of a surprise that Cuomo hasn't yet revealed the identity of his new nominee for lieutenant governor.

The potential candidates are dropping out like the hapless children in Willy Wonka's chocolate factory – with Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown now apparently out of the running and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (whose county is hosting the convention) saying he wants to focus on re-election next year.

With Republican candidate for governor Rob Astorino picking Chris Moss – who is African-American -- as his running mate, there is talk that Cuomo could focus on a non-white candidate, like New York Secretary of State Cesar Perales or former City Comptroller Bill Thompson.

Although all of this guessing might feel like an insider's parlor game, let's remember that while being lieutenant governor can seem like the political equivalent of the rubber room, the job can suddenly matter -- just ask David Paterson or Malcolm Wilson.

With the Republicans having no statewide primary squabble last week and the Democrats all (sort of) being on the same page, we'll leave it to the state's Batman to pick his Robin today.
The fractured family dynamics of the rest of the convention should also be interesting. Four years ago, delegates seemed joylessly resigned to the reality of a Cuomo tsunami and were happily distracted by a five-way primary race for State Attorney General. (Does anyone remember Eric Dinallo?)

This year, it will be interesting to see how the governor's team treats State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli and State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who have had their share of behind-the-scenes battles with Cuomo. It's a bit surprising that they're even being allowed to be re-nominated in the same hotel and don't have to sneak in like Cinderella.

The only other surprise will be whether the convention will see any special guest stars: there are plenty of rumblings that we'll see both former President Bill Clinton and Mayor de Blasio, who may play supporting roles in Cuomo's version of "This is Your LIfe."

Meanwhile, Cuomo will try to tamp down any concerns he has on his left flank as the Working Families Party is seriously considering nominating someone named "Not Andrew Cuomo." Expect the governor to embrace his party roots and sound more like his father and less like a tax-hating Republican as he has in recent days. And finally, expect a good speech. Cuomo delivered a terrific stemwinder to the state's delegates at the Democratic National Convention in 2012. While he prefers to speak sitting down at tables, the governor can sound pretty good when he's standing up. Let's see if they bring a podium to Melville tomorrow.

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