Posts Tagged ‘Andrew Cuomo’

Who in the World is Kathy Hochul?

Friday, August 27th, 2021

By Bob Gaydos

Kathy Hochul is sworn as New York’s 57th governor.

Kathy Hochul is sworn as New York’s 57th governor.

      Move over FDR and Teddy R. Step aside, Mr. Harriman, Mr. Rockefeller. Make way for history, John Jay, Martin Van Buren and Grover Cleveland. In fact, Al Smith, Ham Fish, George Pataki et al, how about a round of applause? This week, August 24 to be precise, New York State got its first woman governor.

      It only took 231 years. Thirty states managed to accomplish this feat before New York. The new governor of New York is Kathy Hochul. Until recently, most New Yorkers had never heard of her. That’s true of most lieutenant governors, but most lieutenant governors don’t get to become governor when the actual governor resigns. That’s how Hochul got the job. No matter. Her moment in history deserves more recognition than it has received. 

        Let’s start with the irony of the situation. Andrew Cuomo, whom Hochul replaced as governor, chose her as his running mate in 2014 because she was from upstate and because he thought a woman on the ticket would bring him more votes. He used her for political reasons. Cuomo was forced to resign, of course, because nearly a dozen women accused him of using them to address his sexual needs. He denied the charges, but bowed to overwhelming pressure from fellow Democrats to resign.

           Perhaps the most damaging response to the allegations came from the state attorney general, Letitia James, whose investigation produced a report that described a “hostile work environment” created by Cuomo’s actions. James, also a Democrat, through her involvement in investigating Donald Trump’s taxes, has become one of the best-known, politically influential women in a state that for a long time did not encourage such ambition.

         In fact, the state did not have a female senator until 2002, when Hillary Clinton, a transplant from Washington,  D.C,, won election. She was succeeded by Kirsten Gillebrand when Barack Obama tapped Clinton to be his Secretary of State. Gillebrand is still in the Senate, but is not necessarily influential in New York politics. Nor has any of the several congresswomen elected over the years from the New York metropolitan area been especially influential in state politics.

          State government has been a boys club for a long time in New York. Hochul says she’s ready to integrate that club by running for election, and winning, on her own next year. She will undoubtedly face a tough primary challenge, but first she has the challenge of the ongoing Covid pandemic to deal with as well as that lingering hostile environment around the governor’s office. Can she do it? She said she intends to do both in her swearing-in remarks.

        How well she handles those challenges may hold the answer to another question: Can a one-term congresswoman and former county clerk, who spent most of her time in Albany as a goodwill ambassador to the state’s 62 counties, convince New Yorkers that she can run their government?

          By the way, Hochul is not the only New York lieutenant governor to make history in stepping up to the governorship. Basil Paterson became the first African-American To be governor of New York and first legally blind person to be governor of any state. He succeeded Eliot Spitzer, who resigned in 2008 after news reports said that he had patronized a prostitution ring run by an escort service in Washington, D.C. The FBI had a tap on the premises. 

        Paterson did not seek election to the governorship in 2011, giving way to Andrew Cuomo. (It really is all connected.) But Paterson did appoint Gillibrand to Clinton’s vacant Senate seat. He also became the focus of a recurring skit on Saturday Night Live. 

       Back to Hochul. Hillary Clinton still lives in New York and if there’s anything she loves to do, it’s breaking up good old boys clubs. Stay tuned.

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at






The Cuomos: A Disappointing Dynasty

Tuesday, August 10th, 2021

By Bob Gaydos

Mario Cuomo, left, and Andrew Cuomo.

Mario Cuomo, left, and Andrew Cuomo.

    Some thoughts on the demise of the Cuomo dynasty:

  • Yes, I believe the 11 women who accused Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment and related behavior.
  • Yes, I think he needed to resign as governor of New York.
  • Yes, I think all the prominent Democratic elected officials, starting with President Biden and including every elected Democratic member of Congress from New York was right to urge him to resign
  • No, I don’t think any Republican should have one word to say about this so long as no Republican has had one word of criticism regarding the 23 women who have accused Donald Trump of sexual assaults, never mind the behaviors of Matt Gaetz and Jim Jordan.
  • Yes, I find it disappointing, even sad, that what could have been a wonderful family legacy has to end in such a tawdry manner.


     Let’s start with Cuomo the elder, Mario, the late governor who might have been president. It’s good that he’s not around to witness what his son has wrought.

      Mario, of course, was the source of one of Democrats’ greatest disappointments when he decided, in dramatic fashion, not to run for president in 1992. In his third term as governor at the time, he was easily the most popular choice among Democrats to challenge the Republican incumbent, George H.W. Bush.

         Cuomo had put himself in that position with his progressive policies as governor and a stirring keynote speech at the 1988 Democratic Convention in which he turned Ronald Reagan’s “shining city on the hill“ into a “tale of two cities,“ one thriving, one not, with the kind of speech that often kicks off presidential campaigns for politicians without a broad national reputation. It did so for Barack Obama. It was also there for Cuomo, a skilled orator.         

          But progressive Democrats’ hopes and Mario Cuomo‘s presidential campaign never took off. Literally. On Dec. 20, 1991, the filing deadline for the Democratic presidential primary in New Hampshire, Cuomo was in the midst of budget negotiations with the Republican-led State Senate and the Democrat-led State Assembly. Candidates have to file the nominating petitions in person in New Hampshire, traditionally the first primary in the country, a place for candidates to grab an early lead. Cuomo had a plane idling on the runway in Albany waiting to fly him to New Hampshire. He previously had said he would file if he had finalized a budget with the legislators. With no agreement in Albany, Cuomo opted not to fly to New Hampshire and then come back to work on the budget. He said that would break his pledge to New Yorkers. A lot of New Yorkers and Democrats elsewhere would have forgiven this transgression. But Cuomo stayed home, Bill Clinton eventually captured the Democratic nomination and won the presidential election. Cuomo was defeated in his bid for a fourth term by Republican George Pataki, the mayor of Peekskill, a small upstate city. Cuomo left politics, eventually joining a law firm in New York City.

   Andrew Cuomo got his start in politics managing his father’s gubernatorial campaign. His work founding a housing non-profit in New York City and as chair of the New York City Homeless Commission led to positions of Undersecretary of Housing and Urban Development and then Secretary of HUD in the Clinton administration. Cuomo returned to New York and was eventually elected attorney general and then governor.

      Like his father, he was elected to three terms.    Unlike his father, however, Andrew always had the aura of the hard-nosed politician about him. Some called him a bully. Some of his closest aides did not understand the governmental policy of transparency. Both men were responsible for a number of progressive changes in the state. Mario eliminated the death penalty. Andrew instituted the toughest gun control laws in the nation. Both men had outsized personalities and egos, not uncommon in politics. But whereas his father could  hold his ego in check most of the time, Andrew tended to wear his for all to see.

        Ego led to his downfall. While receiving nationwide praise for his handling of the COVID-19 epidemic in New York, his staff also hid devastating numbers of deaths that resulted from his decision to transfer seriously ill patients from hospitals to nursing homes. That lack of transparency — lying — made it impossible for anyone to believe his claims of innocence when women started accusing him of sexual harassment. That, and the fact the women had nothing to gain by lying.

         The sense of service Andrew Cuomo inherited from his father became overshadowed by a sense of survival and entitlement. He was the boss.

         No more. New Yorkers will soon have their first woman governor, Kathy Hochul, the lieutenant governor. Like his father, Cuomo chose a little known politician from western New York state to be his running mate. Mario hat Stan Lundine; Andrew had Hochul.

          If she’s interested in running for governor on her own next year, she’ll have a tough challenge letting New Yorkers know who she is. Plus, she’s from Buffalo, the Midwest. It would seem to make the field wide-open. However, if New Yorkers are interested in having a woman governor and if Democrats are looking for someone with name recognition, I have two words: Hillary Clinton. She’s experienced and local, but like Mario Cuomo once upon a time, may not be available. Wouldn’t hurt to ask.

         Ultimately, Mario Cuomo’s hemming and hawing about running for president led to him being called Hamlet on the Hudson. A brilliant disappointment. Still, that’s much better than Groper in the Governor’s Office. A sad end to a dynasty, to be sure.

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at



His Father’s Son

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

 By Gretchen Gibbs

Mario and Andrew Cuomo

Mario and Andrew Cuomo

 The news that Andrew Cuomo blocked the work of his own investigation committee made me long for Mario, and wonder what their relationship is like. Looks like Andrew learned the political savvy and the ambition without the integrity. Not a new perception on my part, but this latest revelation sharpens it.

It made me ponder the relationship between my own father and my grandfather. My father learned many things from his father, like gentleness with children and the love of clocks, but a lot of his personality was formed in reaction to his father, who was blind.

Daddy was a visual type who loved to read and knew the world through his mind. His father, as a young man, loved to read as well, but while in law school he developed cataracts. A quack of a doctor removed them too early, and left him blind for life.

Grandpa liked to place me on his lap, facing away from him, and I would demand to play horsey. Horsey involved him jouncing me up and down while he recited:

“When I was a little boy, I lived by myself. All the bread and cheese I had I kept upon the shelf. The rats and the mice, they led me such a life, I had to go to Londontown to buy me a wife. The streets were so broad and the lanes were so narrow, I had to bring my wife home in the wheelbarrow. The wheelbarrow broke (here I go slipping through Grandpa’s knees), my wife had a fall (I slip through again) and down went the wheelbarrow, wife and all. ” (Here I am on the floor, laughing in delight.)

Every night Grandpa wound the clock, the one on my mantle now. It’s not valuable, purchased from Sears, I think, but I always regarded it with a kind of reverence because he did. I have two of my father’s clocks as well

Grandpa’s was a 24-hour clock, and every evening around six, he would approach the mantle, feel for it, feel for the latch that opened it, feel for the keys kept inside it, and then wind both the time-keeping apparatus and the chimes. All day, he counted the chimes so that he knew the time.

I asked Daddy about his father’s blindness several times and he couldn’t talk about it. I overheard a conversation between him and my mother, and the word he used was “shame.” To be sure, Grandpa had to give up law, and go into piano tuning, one of the few kinds of work that didn’t require vision.

Once, when I asked him about his childhood, Daddy said, “We were poor,” as though that said it all. Daddy had to put himself through college and graduate school with scholarships and work, while he and Mother raised us children. I was in third grade by the time Daddy got his Ph.D. He had considered law school, but decided he would do better teaching political science, which he did for most of his life at Boston University. He was ambitious and competitive, and his memoir is mostly full of details about his work successes. He became a dean and led a faction in opposition to the president of the university, John Silber.

In the conversation I overheard, Mother protested, “There was nothing to be ashamed of. It wasn’t his fault.” My father stated that in those days blindness was shameful. He could never bring anybody home from school. His mother never had friends over. They didn’t go out.

I wonder how Grandpa thought of his life, whether it felt shameful to him. I had a psychology professor who spoke of vision as the last of our senses to develop, and thought our other senses were more basic. Animals tend to have poorer vision as compared to ours, and to rely more on smell and hearing. Grandpa was forced into a more primitive kind of life. As I get older, have retired, and spend a lot of time alone, I can perhaps understand what it was like. I still use my eyes a great deal, but I find the simple pleasures of a summer breeze, the taste of ice cream, and my cat’s soft fur move me more than they used to. Grandpa loved his classical records, the radio, his root beer floats, playing with his grandchildren, his clock, and his pipe. His wife was always young and beautiful in his mind.

There’s really not much connection between the Cuomos, father and son, and my father and grandfather. My father reacted to his father’s inability to make money by trying hard for success. Andrew seems to have reacted to his father’s integrity by becoming self-serving. In my family, my grandfather was blind, my father ambitious. In the Cuomos, Andrew is the one who is blind, with ambition.