ALBANY—In one sense, the AFL-CIO's decision Monday not to endorse Andrew Cuomo's re-election is bigger than it looks. That's because the union's decision, sources say, was partially the result of heavy lobbying from other labor groups that are snubbing or actively opposing the governor.
The union's decision is somewhat smaller in terms of the likelihood that it will have a meaningful impact on the election, though.
You would think it's a no-brainer for the largest labor organization in the state to back a Democratic governor who, despite frustrating actions, has worked to create jobs for its members. All signs—polls, resources—point toward him winning in November, show his principal opponents in the primary and general elections are widely unknown and, in the case of the Republican, Rob Astorino, far less eager to toe the labor line.
The AFL-CIO's decision to stay on the sidelines anyway will be embarrassing to Cuomo and fuel buzz about his challenger Zephyr Teachout. But the governor has enough money and infrastructural support (including the backing of other unions) not to have to rely on the group.
“I find it hard to imagine that anything the unions are doing is ultimately going to make a big difference in a primary,” said Joe Mercurio, a Democratic political consultant. “This is going to be a turnout-driven election, and he has way more resources than she does to generate turnout.”
As I posted yesterday, the unions did their "endorsement" work for Cuomo when they threatened the Working Families Party with "dissolution" if WFP endorsed Zephyr Teachout and helped her launch a third party bid against Cuomo in the general election.
Polls show Cuomo has run away with a two man race but has a much closer margin of victory in a three-man race - a margin that could close considerably before Election Day.
Vielkind says the unions are looking to rebuke Cuomo for his policies but not defeat him.
I would argue that they aren't even looking to rebuke him - at least not the union leaders.
I would argue that they are playing realpolitik here, knowing that their rank-and-file members are pissed at Cuomo and there would be a lot of rumblings if any of the unions endorsed Cuomo.
I would argue that Andrew Cuomo knows this too and the deal was made between the union leaders (except for PEF, which endorsed Teachout) and Cuomo that the "endorsement" work would be done in the spring during the WFP convention when it mattered most.
Had WFP put Teachout on the ballot to run against Cuomo in the general election, he would have had a real race on his hands.
But the union leaders ensured this didn't happen and Andrew Cuomo knows that was their handiwork.
There is no rebuke from union leaders for Cuomo - except from PEF, which endorsed Teachout.
The other union leaders, their endorsements came back in spring.