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Cuomo faces challenges in 2018 and beyond

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Governor's Office
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Gov. Andrew Cuomo has not officially announced a candidacy for a third term, but has told everyone he is planning to run next year.

However, it is hard to talk about Cuomo's potential race for re-election next year without discussing the Presidential race in 2020 and whether Cuomo will be a candidate.

The governor, for his first six years in office, kept a low national profile, but in 2017, he stepped up his appearances on national news shows and took on President Trump on issues like climate change. He has been very vocal in his opposition to the federal tax overhaul, calling it a “dagger in the heart” of the state and saying it penalizes blue, high-tax states like New York.

“They’re using New York as a piggy bank to pay for the tax cuts in other states,” Cuomo said on December 13.

Cuomo also is helping Puerto Rico get power and services back after the devastating hurricanes, stepping in to fix a problem that the federal government was not addressing. He has sent supplies and made three trips to the Island.

The governor has only said that he intends to seek re-election as governor in 2018.

Former Assemblymember Richard Brodsky, who is now a senior fellow at Demos Action and frequent columnist for the Huffington Post, said Cuomo brings both strengths and weaknesses to a re-election campaign, as well as a potential presidential run.

He said the governor is “articulate” and has good relations with unions, as well as being able to “raise a fortune.” Cuomo has $25 million dollars in his campaign account.

Brodsky said the governor has a solid record on legalizing gay marriage, gun control and offering free tuition to some middle-class students at state universities, but Cuomo’s record is that of a traditional politician, in a time of great political upheaval.

“The world of politics is changing,” Brodsky said, “and what passed for leadership in the olden days is not necessarily leadership today.”

New York’s junior Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who is also up for re-election in 2018 is, like Cuomo, considered a potential 2020 Presidential candidate. Gillibrand does not have the name recognition of Cuomo and is not as skilled in fundraising, but she has been gaining a lot of national attention for standing up for women who are sexually harassed.

She drew the ire of President Trump, who tweeted that she would do “anything” to get money from donors and said her longtime political patron, former President Bill Clinton, should have resigned from office for sexually related transgressions.

Brodsky said Gillibrand may be more representative of the model politician of the future, but he said, ultimately, Democrats will be looking for the candidate most likely to beat Trump.

“The Democratic voter in 2020 is going to look for the person most likely to win,” he said.

First, though, the governor faces a number of obstacles. The state has a $4.4 billion deficit and there is uncertainty over the effects of the federal tax overhaul on the state’s finances, as well as possible big funding cuts by President Trump and Congress. Several of the governor’s former associates, including a former top aide, go on trial for corruption beginning in January.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. WBFO listeners are accustomed to hearing DeWitt’s insightful coverage throughout the day, including expanded reports on Morning Edition.
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