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Team Cuomo

April 29, 2010

The late-starting 2010 gubernatorial campaign in New York has begun in earnest with the New York Times’ examination of one of Andrew Cuomo’s top political advisors.

While there have been previous articles in the Times about Cuomo’s operation, none of the articles featured much in the way of real scrutiny or critical analysis.

This piece by the Pulitzer Prize-winning Danny Hakim isn’t exactly hard-hitting, but it does pose interesting questions.

At issue is Jennifer Cunningham, described by the Times as “one of Albany’s most prominent lobbyists” and top operative for the health care union, SEIU 1199. For the Times, the involvement of Ms. Cunningham raises the question of the “symbiotic relationship between politicians and lobbyists.”

Give the Times credit for duly reporting and then  ignoring the Cuomo camp’s ridiculous claim that Ms. Cunningham is just a “volunteer” on the campaign.

Hakim drills down on Ms. Cunningham’s considerable influence with Mr. Cuomo, but nothing he finds raises the spectre of impropriety.

Instead, the result is an article that mildly undercuts Cuomo’s claim to be an outsider and anti-establishment figure.

The Cuomo camp won’t get it, but this is a good thing for them.

That’s because Cuomo is definitely not an outsider. In fact, with his pedigree, he’s the ultimate insider – and the sooner he and his people understand this and stop trying to pretend otherwise, the better for both his candidacy and his future administration.

So what if Cuomo consults with a top lobbyist/union operative? As long as he’s also consulting with top business advocates and a wide range of other smart individuals and groups, it’s no big deal.  

For Cuomo’s people to set their man up as some extraordinary new politician who will never have anything to do with “special interests” and establishment types is ridiculous.

In fact, what the state really needs now is a person of strength and integrity who can deal with all of the interest groups and chart the right forward-looking, moderate course.

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