Although some argue it is too early to start talking about the 2020 presidential election when we still have to turn Congress blue next year, talk about who the Democrats might run against President Donald Trump is beginning nonetheless.
Could New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo be the first Democrat to announce his intent to pursue the White House? More importantly, is he progressive enough to win over Berniecrats and Independents?
Although Cuomo hasn’t talked about a potential run, his rhetoric lately makes it sound like he’s testing the waters.
At the Hotel Trades Council near Times Square in Manhattan this spring, Cuomo said in a speech to a crowd of unionized hotel workers:
“The truth is the middle class is under attack. The working families are under attack. Middle-class wages are behind where they were 20 years ago. Think about it. All the pundits on TV say, ‘We don’t understand why there is such anger and anxiety.’ It’s the labor movement that built the middle class and it’s the labor movement that’s going to have to rebuild the middle class in this country.”
This is a sentiment Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) shares all the time.
Understanding who his opponent will be should he run, Cuomo directly attacks Trump’s anti-immigration stance:
“You want to deport immigrants? I say to them, start with me, Andrew Cuomo, the grandson of Andrea and Immacolata Cuomo, Italian poor immigrants.”
The hotel workers to whom Cuomo was speaking, many immigrants themselves, stood and chanted:
“Andrew Cuomo for president! 2020! 2020!”
Jonathan Cowan, president and founder of Third Way, a centrist think tank, and a former Cuomo adviser, said about Cuomo:
“Look at his career, look at his work in New York. He is laying out a model for what it means to be a 21st-century Democrat. Our party is in a deep hole. You have to look around and say, ‘Who is succeeding? Who is doing it differently?’”
And Cuomo is apparently on Trump’s radar. Trump did, in fact, run against Cuomo for New York governor in 2014–about a year before Trump decided to run for president.
Michael Caputo is a Trump adviser who helped organize Trump’s gubernatorial run. He said:
“I would say Cuomo is the one I am most nervous about. Hillary Clinton wouldn’t take the gloves off. There isn’t a counterpunch Andrew Cuomo won’t throw.”
Most experts at calculating political odds place Cuomo in the top 10 in the political realm.
Cuomo’s speeches lately rail against Washington. They contrast Congressional gridlock against his own management of a state that has been described as “dysfunctional.” They identify Republicans’ priorities as misplaced, and tout the progress he has achieved in Albany.
Gov. Cuomo has even hired New Jersey governor Chris Christie’s (R) former chief of staff, in a move some are regarding as a means to foment bipartisanship. His aides have even reached out to out-of-state donors about possible fundraising later this year.
Lately, the state Democratic Party has run out-of-state ads featuring Cuomo alongside Bernie Sanders extolling Sen. Sanders’ free college proposal Cuomo signed into law this spring.
Unlike Trump, Cuomo has decades of political experience on which to draw.
He is the son of former NY governor, the late Andrew Cuomo, briefly served as President Bill Clinton’s Housing and Urban Development secretary, and as New York’s attorney general.
However, the perception many have of him as a dyed-in-the wool politician in the age of the “political outsider” may hamper his chances. Many regard him as too corporate.
Nomiki Konst, a Bernie Sanders delegate to the Democratic National Convention, calls Cuomo:
“The worst of the worst. Andrew Cuomo is somehow the only politician in America who still thinks neoliberalism and triangulation work, who opens up the Blue Dog playbook and says, ‘How can I use this to run for president?’”
Progressives can feel proud of the success they had moving Hillary Clinton further left during her presidential campaign, culminating in the most progressive Democratic party platform in recent political history. The candidacy of Bernie Sanders played a pivotal role in that.
With Sanders literally standing beside Cuomo rolling out that platform, perhaps progressives have another chance to craft the candidate to take on Trump (or Pence) in 2020.
Featured image from YouTube video.