Bigfoot won. Big time.
Andrew Cuomo, buoyed by millions in vendor-donated campaign cash, effectively unopposed in New York’s two-party-in-name-only corruptocracy and unencumbered by anything approaching common civility, was elected governor of the Empire State for the third time Tuesday.
And Democrats did equally well virtually across the board Tuesday. New York is no longer merely a blue state, it’s a shimmering cobalt state — and is likely to remain so for some time.
So congrats to Cuomo and the Democrats; the people have chosen emphatically and predictably. Time will tell whether they acted wisely.
The governor ran a campaign light on substance but heavy on hyperbolic criticism of President Trump.
The governor ran a campaign light on substance but heavy on hyperbolic criticism of President Trump. This continued into his eyeball-bulging stem-winder of an acceptance speech Tuesday night — and so New Yorkers should expect more of it as Cuomo moves into a third term.
For there are two major Election Day takeaways:
- Trump thumping works in New York — the corollary being that nice guys no longer need try. So from now on, they won’t — and this will escalate the ugliness.
- Honesty is no longer the best policy in the Empire State. The new standard is gamey-but-probably-not-prosecutable, and the $100 million campaign jackpot Cuomo raised over eight years — in large measure from donors seeking state contracts — becomes a starting point for the next guy.
Neither is a healthy development.
Be that as it may, now comes another payday. And while elsewhere the victors traditionally collect the spoils, in New York it’s the spoilers who usually wind up the victors.
Tuesday was no different.
Here’s just one example: Local 1199/SEIU, New York’s premier health care workers union, has long lavished cash, organizational infrastructure and campaign foot soldiers on Cuomo. It endorsed him over insurgent gadfly Cynthia Nixon in this year’s Democratic primary — and now it will luxuriate in a multibillion-dollar infusion of new cash into the state’s Medicaid program, instigated by Cuomo and announced by the administration 96 hours before the polls opened.
So expect single-payer health insurance — an 1199 priority — to become a thing in New York. Because it’s a fact that nobody quids a pro quo quite like Andrew Cuomo, a man bred to the state’s what’s-in-it-for-me political ethic.
Now the questions become these: Leaving aside the matter of his future ambitions, is he capable of controlling the environment he has just done so much to create? Is he even inclined to try?
It’s true that no governor in modern times has had his hands on more power levers than Cuomo will command come January. He’ll bring an impressive personal mandate to office; his hand-picked candidate for attorney general won handily — and with Democrats in firm control of the Assembly and on the verge of taking control of the Senate, the governor is nothing if not sitting pretty.
But 1199/SEIUs both large and small populate the nooks and crannies of New York politics. They’ll be presenting bills of their own in the coming months and some will have serious policy implications.
Perhaps more to the point, can he keep a newly Democratic state Senate on a tether? Firebrand progressives will be entering that body. They’ll be restless — and Cuomo no doubt remembers the riot of chaos and incoherence that broke out the last time the party took control. (Some of the participants in that fiasco remain in prison to this day.)
And then there is the very real question of whether the man who has so far governed mostly through bombast and bullying is even capable of deploying the subtlety and nuance needed to master an unambiguously one-party Albany.
That is, can Bigfoot survive success?
This piece originally appeared at the New York Post
Bob McManus is a contributing editor of City Journal. He retired as editorial page editor of the New York Post in 2013 and has since worked as a freelance editor, columnist, and writer.