The Perfect 1-2 punch
If State Republicans were not already facing enough of an uphill battle, what in the world are they going to do to combat the Andrew Cuomo-Rochester Mayor Robert Duffy ticket?
You have to tip your hat to Cuomo, this selection is good.
New York City voters may not initially be impressed, but upstate is. Upstate often feels neglected when it comes to downstate, and downstate dominated political tickets. But now, they not only have the popular Cuomo (based on polls) but one of their own.
With one man, Cuomo hit the political jackpot to a degree.
Duffy provides regional balance (upstate,downstate) Should Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice win the primary for State Attorney General, Cuomo will have gender balance. The only thing he may take a hit for is ethnic balance. And that will be solved with an African American or Latino in a prominent appointment.
Duffy also fits the bill of a lieutenant governor who can be ready to take charge immediately should something happen to Cuomo.
With Duffy, Cuomo has a tax cutting former police chief of Rochester who also attended graduate school at upstate Syracuse University. That covers two major upstate cities. Rochester and Syracuse, and oh, let’s not forget Duffy won with 72 percent of the vote and was unopposed last year in his re-election.
Sounds like Cuomo borrowed a page right out of his dad’s playbook. Mario Cuomo at one time had upstate politician Stanley Lundine from Jamestown as his Lt. Governor for 8 years.
But one has to wonder if the relationship between Cuomo-Duffy will really improve from Cuomo-Lundine. The Lieutenant governor does not have much to do. It is largely a ceremonial office, and boy was Lundine forced to be ceremonial. That’s putting it nicely.
Much of the role of the lieutenant governor and the power of the position depends on the willingness of the governor to delegate.
Under the New York state Constitution, the lieutenant governor is the second-highest ranking official in state government. The official duties include serving as president of the state Senate, acting governor in absence of the governor and first in line to become the governor if the elected governor dies, is impeached or resigns.
Before David Paterson in March of 2008, the last lieutenant governor to be elevated in midterm was Malcolm Wilson after the resignation of Nelson Rockefeller in 1973.
In his speech the other day Andrew Cuomo talked about how he values the office because his father, Mario Cuomo, served as lieutenant governor under Gov. Hugh Carey from 1978 until he was elected governor in 1982.
"I never trivialized the position. I never trivialized the potential of the position," Cuomo said.
Maybe this relationship will be different. To a degree the country has watched President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden change the traditional relationship. So did President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.
No matter what may happen with Duffy, Cuomo is moving to the right (at least a fiscally conservative tone) and sending the clear message he wants to send to unions.
Like Bloomberg achieved, Duffy is pushing to gain control over Rochester Schools. Regarding unions Cuomo says of Duffy:
“He was not a pushover: he was not a roll over. “Yes he tangled with public employee unions. Guess What? We’re going to be tangling with public employee unions going forward.”
Message sent. Message received. It will be interesting. We have heard that before from many governors until after their first year and their approval rating nose dives because of unpopular budget cuts, and union TV commercials portraying the Governor as uncaring and hurting New Yorkers. So we will see.
Before Duffy becomes Cuomo's "running mate," he has to win the right in the state's Democratic primary. That should not be difficult but remember history has shown us the top of the ticket’s pick for Lt. Governor is not always money in the bank.(Mario Cuomo had favored H. Carl McCall and McCall lost)