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The Democratic Ticket

May 26, 2010

For months, people in the Cuomo camp were hinting at a surprise pick for Lieutenant Governor. It would be an out-of-the-box choice. A non-political person. An individual with extensive executive experience, perhaps a prominent figure from Washington or Wall Street. 

Throughout this period, relatively few rumors circulated. This was odd because there’s usually a game that gets played. A gubernatorial candidate lets certain people circulate their names as possible LG candidates. Aides to the gubernatorial candidate then say nice things about that person. This is a nice thing to do for someone you regard as a friend and ally. It can be the highlight of a local pol’s career. Moreover, it helps build regional interest in the ticket. 

But of the names that did circulate in this manner, none really fit the criteria that had been outlined, and rather than play the game the way it is usually played, Cuomo’s people all but dismissed the suggestions. 

Interestingly, Rochester Mayor Robert Duffy was among the names that got some attention, and while the Cuomo’s people didn’t say anything negative about him, they made it clear that a bolder pick was coming. 

Given this backdrop, the selection of Duffy is somewhat surprising. Of course, he’s no embarrassment. Not at all. He’s been a decent mayor. He’s a former cop. There’s no rap against him other than that he’s not very exciting. 

In this regard, Andrew seems to be doing what his father did. Duffy is like Stan Lundine, the competent, but boring, Congressman from Jamestown who was Mario’s LG for many years.     

Duffy won’t hurt the ticket. Perhaps the only problem that might now emerge is with the minority community, leaders of which have begun to question Cuomo’s commitment to diversity. In this regard, recent newspaper articles identifying Cuomo’s inner circle showed no people of color. There have been rumblings about this, but nothing public. That may change. 

Something else may change. Duffy will be watched more closely than David Paterson was at this point in the Spitzer cycle. That’s not because people expect lightning to strike again. It’s because of the fact that if Cuomo is even mildly successful as governor, he will be considered an immediate contender for national office.

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