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Bravo, AC

July 28, 2010

It is a very unusual year in politics, and if you are a statewide candidate, you might as well throw away the old political playbook. 

For example, if you are Andrew Cuomo and you run a traditional campaign in which you align yourself with the institutional forces of the Democratic party — ­ unions, minorities and party officials — ­ you’d be playing right into the hands of opponents who are trying to label you as an insider.

Cuomo understands this. That’s why he’s gone out of his way to keep the institutional types at a distance. No photo ops with union chiefs. No joint events with Charlie Rangel. No back slapping with party bosses. 

To the contrary, Cuomo has offered pointed criticism of the status quo and those (Democrats) who protect it. More than that, he has appeared with Republicans to underscore the fact that he’s bipartisan and issue oriented. (See yesterday’s event with the Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano.)

We understood what Cuomo is doing and why, but we had our doubts. In previous posts, we fretted about him being overconfident, if not arrogant. 

We saw his slip in the polls, and while we didn’t think he was in any danger of losing, we thought he was headed toward a lackluster showing in the fall, a 52-48 or 48-32-20 win that would deprive him of the mandate he needs to be an effective governor.

We saw an urgent need for him to hit the airwaves with a positive message before Carl Paladino hit him with the negative. 

Alas, Cuomo understands all of this and more. And he has now added the missing element to his campaign, a populist issue that will motivate voters in a year when they might be inclined to stay home. He is running his first TV ads on it.  It’s property taxes, which polls at 80 percent plus in the suburbs and upstate, and more than 60 percent in the city. 

This is a masterstroke by Cuomo. It’s the triangulation of his mentor. (Not Mario, but Bill Clinton.) It is sure to raise his approval ratings and help position him for next year. Moreover, it works not only for him but the party as well. 

The Dems, if they are smart, will rush to align themselves with Cuomo. So will Republicans. 

While some of us wished that Cuomo would make a comprehensive job creation strategy the centerpiece of his campaign, we realize that this is the most effective issue to press politically.

It’s a brilliant move by Cuomo.

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