The late Gov. Mario Cuomo (D), father of the embattled Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), experienced a shocking defeat in his 1994 campaign for reelection in which he lost to now former Gov. George Pataki (R), a lesser-known politician serving as a Republican state senator at the time.
Mario Cuomo was seeking a fourth term in office — just like his eldest son is now — when he decisively lost to Pataki by five points, marking the first Republican gubernatorial victory in the Empire State in two decades.
A New York Times eulogy written in 2015 described Mario Cuomo’s final years in office as “a series of grim footnotes as he struggled to keep the government afloat in worsening times.”
“When the 1994 election season began, he seemed unaware of how much his popularity had eroded,” the eulogy continued. “He was stunned, [Mario Cuomo] said, that someone like Mr. Pataki could pose a serious challenge to someone with his credentials.” Pataki went on to serve three full four-year terms as governor before retiring in 2006. Republicans ever since Pataki left office have been unsuccessful in their gubernatorial pursuits in the solidly blue state.
Andrew Cuomo’s scandal-plagued year is now putting the New York Democrat at risk of suffering a similar defeat as his father. A recent Siena College survey reinforces that notion as it found a majority of the 809 voters it surveyed do not believe Cuomo should run for reelection.
The survey was taken prior to Tuesday, when New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) released a bombshell report stating that a months-long investigation found Cuomo had sexually harassed multiple current and former state employees. The accusations against Cuomo had begun back in December with one former employee saying the governor sexually harassed her. The issue grew as more women came forward earlier this year.
Watch:New York State Attorney General
Top Democrats, including President Joe Biden, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), have called on Cuomo to resign over the investigation’s findings, but Cuomo is firmly denying the charges and refusing to resign at present.
During a speech responding to James’s report on Tuesday, Andrew Cuomo recalled words of Mario Cuomo, saying, “My father used to say — God rest his soul — that politics is an ugly business. As usual, he was right. But for my father, and for me, it’s worth it because, despite it all, at the end of the day we get good things done for people, and that is what really matters.”
The sexual harassment allegations come amid another scandal in which Cuomo’s office admitted in February to suppressing data about the number of nursing home residents who had died from coronavirus in his state. An aide said the administration hid the numbers out of fear of federal scrutiny of Cuomo’s management of nursing homes as coronavirus cases were surging.
The Siena College survey found voters across the state, regardless of party affiliation, disapproved of Cuomo’s actions in the matter. “When it comes to answering questions about how he handled nursing homes during the pandemic, voters say nearly three-to-one — including Democrats, 49-30 percent — Cuomo did a bad job,” pollster Steven Greenberg said. “More than half of New York City voters and two-thirds from upstate and the downstate suburbs agree that he did a bad job.”
The 2022 Democrat gubernatorial field in New York is empty at this stage, but New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) has not ruled out running. James herself has emerged as a possible challenge to Cuomo, as has New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.
On the Republicans’ side, Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) has demonstrated he could be a competitive contender — potentially following in the footsteps of Pataki — as indicated by his recent fundraising report. Zeldin announced in July he had raised more than $4 million in the first three months of his campaign. The amount was double what Cuomo raised in the last six months, although Cuomo, given his tenure in Albany, is harboring more than $18 million in cash on hand.
Zeldin said the total contributions to his campaign suggest New Yorkers are “fired up” and “know Cuomo’s Gotta Go.”
🚨The #s are in! In just the 1st 3 months of our campaign:
-Raked in $4M+ in receipts
-9k+ donors from all 62 counties
-94% of which were $250 or less!
Cuomo only raised $2.3M since Jan, meaning we far outraised him in 1/2 the time & at 3x the pace! pic.twitter.com/an3Ap7tSRh
— Lee Zeldin (@leezeldin) July 16, 2021
“New Yorkers are fired up and passionately all in to Save Our State, and they’re taking action,” Zeldin stated. “They know Cuomo’s Gotta Go, and it’s going to take a new generation of leadership to get the job done.”
Andrew Cuomo’s campaign also took a slight hit this past weekend when his brother Chris Cuomo’s mother- and father-in-law were spotted at a fundraiser in Southampton Village for the elder Cuomo’s opponent, Zeldin, according to Breitbart News. The event reportedly took place at the home of Walter Deane and raised more than $100,000.
Write to Ashley Oliver at email@example.com.