Why Andrew Cuomo probably isn't leaving anytime soon

·4 min read
andrew cuomo mask car
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo leaves Mount Neboh Baptist Church in Harlem after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine there. Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images
  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is trying to wait out the multiple scandals facing him.

  • He won't rule out seeking a fourth term, which eluded his late father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo.

  • The governor is relying on strong support among Black voters and a $16.8 million campaign war chest.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has found a way to stick around - at least for now - by buying himself time and sitting on a more than $16 million campaign war chest.

On March 17, the 13th anniversary of former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's resignation, Cuomo was staring down the barrel of three simultaneous scandals, calls to resign from the Empire State's two senators and most of its congressional delegation, an ongoing federal investigation into his handling of COVID-19 nursing home deaths, and the beginning of an all encompassing impeachment investigation.

Even as new allegations and more detailed accounts kept emerging, Cuomo refused to resign by blaming "cancel culture."

Buying time

Unlike Spitzer, Cuomo let the negative press coverage and calls to step down drag out, maintaining a low profile by largely avoiding the press and on-camera appearances.

Yet five days later on Thursday, Cuomo was back on camera and laughing it up, flanked by a pair of former Mets and Yankees pitchers along with his daughter, Michaela Kennedy-Cuomo, at a closed press COVID-19 briefing.

The governor's office did not open a conference call for reporters to dial in and ask questions, and while Cuomo has avoided in-person press events for weeks - citing "COVID-19 protocols" - several of his recent events have been crowded with masked attendees.

All of these decisions at Cuomo's discretion have bought him time, with his official position remaining that New York Attorney General Tish James's investigation should proceed and that lawmakers calling for his ouster "who don't know a single fact but yet form a conclusion and an opinion are, in my opinion, reckless and dangerous."

Impeachment remains a real possibility for Cuomo, with New York's process closely resembling that of the US Congress.

However, a critical move by New York Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie this week bought Cuomo even more time.

Heastie, a Bronx Democrat, announced Wednesday that the white shoe law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell will handle the Assembly Judiciary Committee's impeachment investigation. Critics quickly raised concerns over connections between the firm and Cuomo's orbit, with its head of litigation married to the chief judge Cuomo appointed to the New York Court of Appeals.

Cuomo accuser and former staffer Lindsey Boylan called the Assembly investigation a "sham," while the lawyer for Cuomo's second accuser, former staffer Charlotte Bennett, described it as an "unacceptable conflict of interest."

By delaying any articles of impeachment being drawn up and given the looming budget deadline of April 1, Heastie gave Cuomo time to regroup and test the legislature's willingness to impeach him weeks or months down the line.

16.8 million reasons why Cuomo isn't ruling out running for a 4th term

cuomo vaccine
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo receives a Covid-19 vaccine, at a church in the Harlem section of New York, on March 17, 2021. SETH WENIG/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Although Cuomo could have taken a lot of the heat off of him by promising not to run for reelection, he's also refused to do that.

"Today is not a day for politics. I'm focused on my job," Cuomo said on a recent conference call with reporters when asked if he would not run for a fourth term.

Crucially, Cuomo's late father, Mario, was unable to secure a fourth term when he lost to George Pataki, a Republican who managed to win all but one county outside of New York City's five boroughs.

During the height of his global popularity in the early stages of the pandemic, Cuomo got a fundraising boost and brought his cash on hand for 2022 up to $16.8 million.

Recent polling also bodes in Cuomo's favor, with a majority of New Yorkers saying he should not step down and his approval remaining above 60% among Black voters, a crucial voting block for both the general election and any Democratic primary.

At the few televised events Cuomo has done over the past two weeks, he has been flanked by prominent members of the Black community in New York City and Long Island, from clergy leaders at the Javits Center's mass vaccination site to former Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia in the governor's Midtown Manhattan office on Thursday.

With strong support among the most consequential voting block in his party and a huge cash advantage over any potential challengers, Cuomo is calling the legislature's bluff on impeachment and holding out for a slug fest of a reelection campaign.

Read the original article on Business Insider