With the conviction of one of his closest confidantes on corruption charges earlier this month, Andrew Cuomo should be happy to see that voters apparently don’t believe in guilt by association. A Siena College poll released this morning shows Cuomo with hefty leads over potential challengers in both the Democratic primary and in the general election.
If you believe the Siena numbers – and I do — Cynthia Nixon has her work cut out for her if she decides to take on Cuomo along his left flank. The governor starts with a 66 to 19 point lead over Nixon with registered Democrats. He also holds a nearly-50-point lead over possible GOP challengers Marc Molinaro and John DeFrancisco.
Holding a massive campaign war chest, Cuomo is sitting in the catbird seat, probably having more money than he can possibly spend across the campaign trail in an eight-month span.
Not taking anything for granted, Cuomo spent part of his weekend amping up his fight with Mayor de Blasio over the quality of the city’s public housing, suggesting that private contractors should be use to fix dilapidated conditions.
And trying to shore up his support with African-American voters, the governor spoke forcefully at a black church in Brooklyn yesterday.
But there are still plenty of questions to be raised about Cuomo’s record and his “team of one” management style. His upstate economic development programs seem partially successful but also partially Potemkin Village. Talk of changing the way business has been done in Albany has been just that – talk. And perhaps the governor’s original political sin from his first term that still haunts him was not putting a greater priority in having his fellow Democrats unify and win control of the State Senate.
These issues likely would resonate more with a Democratic primary electorate than in a general election – where Republican candidates will have a Trump-sized albatross tired around their necks. A Republican candidate has not won a statewide office since 2002 and it will be extremely difficult for a card-carrying member of the GOP to snap that streak this year.
So Cuomo’s biggest challenge may come from a politically-active actress who’s never run for office before and hasn’t yet made up her mind about a campaign. If Cynthia Nixon wants to be governor, she needs to finish her screen test and start running for real.