I Knew Andy Cuomo and Saw it Coming
I’ve known Andy Cuomo for well over 30 years. I’m not surprised by his rapid political implosion. He may not remember me. Our last conversation was at least 15 years ago. My last name caught his attention at the time. His first wife had left him for a yachtsman with the same last name (no relation to my knowledge).
“I think that young lady has a problem at home,” he told me.
Andy had been his dad’s right-hand man when Mario Cuomo was Governor of New York State from 1983 until 1995. For several years during the elder Cuomo’s time in office I was one of the man’s shadows. I worked for a news radio operation in Central Upstate New York. Whenever the Governor made an appearance at the state fair or in one of a dozen or so counties in the region, I was assigned to the media gaggle. Often, I was sent to the State Capitol for events involving the elder Cuomo. Once at an event in Syracuse, the two of us were talking about a football game when a woman reporting for a TV station began screaming he couldn’t share any secrets with me and leave other journalists out of the loop.
He leaned over and whispered. “I think that young lady has a problem at home,” he told me. Later, she asked me what made me laugh. She refused to believe it when I shared his words.
The old man had an image of arrogance and I often saw him belittle people who questioned him about taxes, his lack of support for the pro-life movement or simply because he wanted to correct their grammar. My managing editor during those years was a liberal from Brooklyn, New York. He told me the Governor had a chip on his shoulder and wanted everybody to know he was the smartest guy in the room.
Andy wasn’t nearly as nice.
He wasn’t the kind of guy who wanted to know if I thought Frank Reich should start a playoff game over Jim Kelly. After George Pataki sent Mario Cuomo into retirement, Andy got a job in the Clinton Administration.
In 2002 he announced plans to seek the Democrat Party nomination for Governor of New York. Even the Clinton’s wouldn’t endorse him!
Instead a tall, courtly man with a divinity degree became the party’s nominee. His name was H. Carl McCall. He had been serving as State Controller. I would see him every year at the State Fair. We would talk politics and baseball. A very nice fellow. He lost the General Election.
Cuomo eventually got a nomination after the political collapse of Eliot Spitzer. There was an interim Governor after “Client Number Nine” resigned. The interim didn’t want a career as Governor. Cuomo got the role as his state became even darker blue. Old media friends shared stories with me about his need to be the smartest man in the room. Unlike his late father, there wasn’t a softer side to his personality.
To me, the younger Governor Cuomo always seemed to have the personality of a labor organizing thug. Eventually, you discover you’ve broken so many legs you no longer have any friends and no one for your defense. Tragic.
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