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June 20, 2010

As impressive as the next governor can be in his reach and strategizing (see
below), he’s not infallible, as two recent situations reveal.

First, he has really mishandled matters in the minority community and now
has a challenger — NYC Councilman Charles Barron. OK, Barron is a former
Black Panther and, as everybody knows, he’s rather bombastic. He’s no threat
to Cuomo ­in the electoral sense. But Barron does speak to very real
concerns in the minority community, not the least of which is respect. All
it would take is for Cuomo or one of his people to say or do something
insensitive and then Barron’s candidacy could become a real problem.

What’s surprising is that Cuomo didn’t see this coming. After the McCall
thing, he should have been going out of his way to show respect. He should
have prominent people of color surrounding him. And he should have at least
considered a minority for LG. In this regard, would it really have been that
hard to float a name or two of some prominent black man or woman? Instead,
his camp seemed to go out of its way to shoot down Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown
as a possibility. Brown’s credentials are better than Duffy’s.

Cuomo apparently did not consider any brown or black person for LG, but word
has it that he was considering upstate women Republican executives. Go

The second mistake by Cuomo involves overreaching in the AG’s race. His
motivation was understandable. At the time when he was most aggressively
involved in the race, Eric Dinallo was the frontrunner. It’s not that he
disliked Dinallo, it’s just that the demographics didn’t work. Cuomo,
DiNapoli and Dinallo sounds like, what? Movements in a Florentine opera?
Menu selections at the Olive Garden? Midfielders on Team Italia?

Nassau DA Kathleen Rice worked both from a gender and ethnicity standpoint,
and that’s who Cuomo was pushing. But her standing has plummeted in recent
days, as questions have been raised about her relationship to a person
connected to Sen. Pedro Espada. No matter what the relationship, she showed
bad judgment just getting involved with him.

Cuomo has now backed off Rice and appears to be open to Sean Coffey, who
seems to be the real deal in terms of legal credentials. Moreover, he stakes
the best claim to being an outsider in a year when that really matters.

(The AG candidates are gathering Monday for their first debate)

The bottom line here was that Cuomo didn’t do enough in the minority
community and meddled in the AG’s race. Of course, neither mistake is fatal.
In fact, both can be rectified and it will be interesting to see how hard he
tries in doing so.

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