This week’s New York Attorney General report on Andrew Cuomo’s workplace behavior has dealt a devastating blow to his political fortunes, amid widespread calls for him to resign. The question of whether he should resign is an important one which we’ve addressed elsewhere. Then there’s the question of how the 2022 New York race for Governor will be impacted if he resigns, or if he finishes his term but declines to seek reelection.
There are three possible scenarios going forward. The first is that Andrew Cuomo resigns. In such case Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul – a Democrat – will become Governor and finish out the current term. Hochul is seen as solid, and would likely be successful and popular. In addition, the media has surely been digging into her background looking for scandals for as long as Cuomo has been on the hot seat, and since they haven’t found any dirt on her yet, they likely won’t ever find any. So she’d do fine, and New York would be fine. If Hochul then runs for Governor in the 2022 race, she’d be running as the incumbent.
The second scenario would be that Cuomo insists on finishing his current term, but with the promise not to seek reelection. In such case Hochul would likely run, but she wouldn’t be the incumbent.
The third scenario would be that Cuomo survives until the end of his term and seeks reelection, in which case all hell would break loose.
The Republican candidates for Governor of New York in 2022 – people like Andrew Giuliani and Lee Zeldin – are objectively awful. The Republican nominee won’t be someone who’s reasonable, or someone who’s particularly electable. The only real chance a Republican would have is if the Democratic nominee ends up being an unelectable “progressive” stunt candidate like Cynthia Nixon. In the unlikely event a Republican did win, that Republican would surely pardon Donald Trump for the financial crimes he’s facing in the state.
So the key to preventing a Republican from being Governor of New York in 2022, and preventing Donald Trump from getting off the hook, is to make sure that the Democrats come out of the 2022 primary race with a solid winning candidate. That candidate is most likely going to be Kathy Hochul – and her best chance of surviving a primary challenge is if she’s the incumbent to begin with. Accordingly, the Democrats’ best chance of winning the race for Governor (and keeping Trump from being pardoned) will be if Andrew Cuomo resigns beforehand and allows Hochul to have the incumbent advantage. In other words, Cuomo could actually stick it to Trump one more time by resigning.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report