After his worst week in office since becoming governor, Andrew Cuomo is now viewed for the first time by important Democrats as potentially vulnerable to Republican challenger Rob Astorino, The Post has learned.
The changing sentiment results from the extraordinary criticisms Cuomo received last week from corruption-fighting Southern District US Attorney Preet Bharara — because of the governor’s summary dismissal of his anti-corruption Moreland Commission panel — and from an assortment of “good-government’’ over his transparently phony plan for a severely limited system of publicly financed elections.
“It was a disastrous week for Andrew. He was being attacked all over town, and it appeared to be the culmination of not just weeks, but months, of eroding support for the governor from within his own Democratic base,’’ one of the state’s most influential Democrats told The Post.
“People are starting to say, ‘Hey, maybe Astorino has a chance in the race, even if it is a long shot,’ and a lot of people, Democrats, are starting to also say that wouldn’t be such a bad thing,’’ he continued.
Several Democratic strategists said Cuomo’s eroding support among politically powerful New York City-based unions, including those behind the influential Working Families Party, all but assures an unusually low turnout among the city’s heavily Democratic voters, normally the foundation for a statewide Democratic victory.
At the same time, they expect Astorino, the popular and recently re-elected Westchester County executive, to do well, offsetting Democratic votes in his large suburban county, and his message of property-tax and spending cuts, educational reforms and economic development to appeal to suburban voters on Long Island as well.
“The traditional dynamics for Cuomo appear to be changing, with a big New York City vote no longer guaranteed and a bigger problem in the suburbs, because of Astorino, than [the governor] had expected,’’ said a prominent campaign consultant.
Cuomo, meanwhile, held a tense, hush-hush, meeting with Working Families Party leaders Dan Cantor and Bob Masters at his campaign headquarters in Manhattan last Thursday in an effort to head off the growing possibility that the WFP will field its own candidate for governor in November.
A source said Cuomo was told what he already knew: While the union-controlled WFP’s leadership would like to “do’’ Cuomo as the party’s nominee, widespread unhappiness with Cuomo’s support for business-tax cuts, spending restraints and a fatally flawed publicly financed campaign system is making that difficult.
Cuomo's vulnerable, folks, and that vulnerability is underscored by his need to meet up with WFP leaders in a "tense, hush-hush" pow-wow at his campaign headquarters last week to tell them they MUST not go the third party candidate route.
So far, opponents and critics from the left have been loathe to take on Sheriff Andy for fear that he would retaliate once re-elected.
But there now exists the possibility that he can be knocked off and that possibility brings leverage against the governor for groups on the left as well as the unions.
Cuomo expects the unions to use their GOTV operations in NYC for him and he expects the WFP to endorse him and further gin up the city vote totals in his column.
Cuomo is pretty unpopular upstate and in western New York, so he needs the city votes to offset weakness there, but what if they gave an election and the unions sat on their hands and the WFP didn't endorse Cuomo and Cuomo's city vote totals plummeted?
As Dicker says, GOP opponent Astorino remains a longshot, but a better longshot this week than he was last week as Cuomo faces challenges like he has never faced before.
I am in the camp that taking Cuomo out and electing a Republican benefits us better than re-electing Cuomo and letting him do to us what he did in the first term - tax cap, charter school protections, etc.
With a GOP governor, the Assembly becomes the linchpin to keep insane policies from being enacted, as the Dems there will look to hold the line against a Republican governor.
But with the Republican-Lite Cuomo in office right now pushing conservative fiscal policies, union-busting and corporate education reform, we have no linchpin to hold the line against these policies - the Dems in the Assembly just go along.
No matter what happens, we are seeing something extraordinary this week - a weakened and chastened Sheriff Andy Cuomo actually looking to the left for help in his re-election bid.
Cuomo's veneer of invincibility is disappearing and that's a very dangerous thing for Sheriff Andy.
He's got a lot of enemies out there in both parties and when they see they can hurt him without fear of retaliation, the floodgates are going to open up on him.