Immediately following Hillary Clinton’s stunning defeat against Donald Trump in November, many in the Democratic Party suggested the DNC failed because it chose a well-connected, corrupt, establishment candidate in an election cycle that heavily favored political outsiders. Consequently, many in the Democratic Party called on DNC leaders to find and promote candidates that could better represent middle-class working Americans.
However, the early front-runner in the 2020 race to be Clinton’s successor, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), seems to fit the establishment mold much closer than the kind of candidate you would expect a party to pick that’s looking to win over (or win back) voters in the Midwest.
Cuomo, like Clinton, has deep political ties. His father, Mario Cuomo, served three terms as the governor of New York, from 1983 to 1995, and Andrew has served in government for most of his professional career, going all the way back to the 1980s.
Cuomo, unlike many in the Democratic Party, has managed to avoid taking sides in the DNC’s war between the establishment-Clinton wing and the populist-Bernie Sanders wing. On one day, as the Washington Post recently reported, Cuomo might be found schmoozing with top establishment Democrats. On another, he’ll give a speech touting his Excelsior Scholarship program, a newly passed plan praised by Sanders that gives students from families earning less than $125,000 per year access to a public college in the state without being charged any tuition (so long as they don’t leave the state within four years).
“He’s running. It’s pretty clear,” said the University of Maryland’s Robert Koulish to the Washington Post, adding, “Maybe he’ll present himself as a progressive who gets things done.”
A February report in Politico also suggested Cuomo is setting himself up for a strong run in 2020.
“But New York operatives, state lawmakers and long-time associates see the 59-year-old governor as carefully laying down markers for his future, whatever it may hold, after Hillary Clinton’s unexpected defeat,” the Politico report reads.
“The cornerstone of that argument, and the way Cuomo sees himself as different and potentially more viable than more obvious 2020 prospects like Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Sherrod Brown or even home-state Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has always been that Cuomo gets done what other politicians—usually legislators—simply talk about,” reported Politico.
“He reminded us what presidential sounds like,” Al Sharpton recently told the New York Observer. “I’d have to see who was in the race, but right now whoever’s in would have some catching up to do.”
“I don’t want to be the first one out there, but I can’t make it more clear: I cannot think of anyone at this time who is better qualified,” Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) said of Cuomo.
Cuomo may seem to have the inside track with some political insiders, but a March Harvard-Harris poll showed only 3 percent of the more than 2,000 registered voters surveyed said they think Cuomo should be the Democrats’ top candidate in 2020. Sanders received the most support, at 14 percent, but he’ll be 79 years old on Election Day in 2020, making it highly unlikely he could capture the nomination.
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