• Mon. Jun 17th, 2024

Cuomo hitting up key unions as he lays the groundwork for potential NYC mayoral run

Cuomo hitting up key unions as he lays the groundwork for potential NYC mayoral run


Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo has quietly been reaching out to politically influential labor leaders, a move being seen by many as a clear sign the disgraced governor’s plans to engineer a comeback are picking up steam.

Multiple labor sources told the Daily News that Cuomo has been in frequent contact with union leaders of late to discuss what he views as failures on both the city and state levels, issues that could reflect poorly on both Mayor Adams and Gov. Hochul. Cuomo has floated the possibility of a Democratic primary run, though it remains unclear under what circumstances that might happen.

One source describing the former governor as making a “direct” pitch, albeit one couched with an “if.”

“He would win hands down if he decided to get in” was how the labor source described a recent conversation with Cuomo.

The source, who spoke under the condition of anonymity to discuss the politically sensitive topic, interpreted the comment to mean a run that did not include going head-to-head against Adams — a scenario sources have previously said Cuomo would likely avoid.

Cuomo, the source said, shared polling to back up his claim and minimized the chances of former city Comptroller Scott Stringer and state Sen. Zellnor Myrie, who have both announced they’re exploring mayoral runs.

“He’s largely just staying on top of people and trying to reaffirm that he’d be the goliath in the race,” the source said.

Mayor Eric Adams is pictured during a press conference at City Hall Blue Room on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. During the press conference, Mayor Adams answered questions regarding the lifeguard shortage, migrant crisis, and NYPD response to pro-Palestinian protests in Brooklyn this past weekend. (Luiz C. Ribeiro for NY Daily News)
Mayor Eric Adams (Luiz C. Ribeiro for NY Daily News)

Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi denied the former governor made a statement saying he’d win “hands down.”

“That didn’t happen,” Azzopardi said. “But there have been a lot of stories in the paper on polls for this or that, and it could have come up in that context.”

A source close to Cuomo said the only recollection the former governor had of discussing a political run with a labor leader involved a potential run against Hochul, stemming from low approval ratings.

Conventional wisdom in political circles around whether Cuomo runs for mayor is that he’s almost certain to jump in if Adams drops out — but if Adams remains, he’s more likely to sit a primary out.

Some political observers, however, view that calculus as potentially shifting.

“He’s more acutely going after the mayor, which leaves the impression he’s less likely to sit it out if the mayor is in the race,” the labor source said.

Aside from Stringer and Myrie, others rumored to be considering runs include Kathryn Garcia, a top aide to Hochul who ran for City Hall in 2021; Brad Lander, the current city comptroller, and state Sen. Jessica Ramos.

One potential advantage Cuomo enjoys more than any of those possible contenders is almost complete name-recognition among voters, but that could prove to be a double-edged sword for the former governor.

Cuomo hitting up key unions as he lays the groundwork for potential NYC mayoral run

Luiz C. Ribeiro for New York Daily News

Former Governor Andrew Cuomo has been praising key unions as he prepares for a potential NYC mayoral run.

After appearing on a near-daily basis on national television during the pandemic for his COVID briefings, Cuomo resigned amid a sexual misconduct scandal. Although he denied the accusations, in the immediate aftermath, he kept a relatively low profile.

That’s shifted in recent months, though, with him speaking publicly about anti-Israel campus protests, congestion pricing and arsenic found in the blood tests of public housing residents.

The revelation that he’s making the labor rounds comes after he publicly called out how city and state government mishandled the discovery of high arsenic levels in residents at an East Village public housing development.

The former governor’s pointed rhetoric about the New York City Housing Authority’s Jacob Riis Houses was delivered last Sunday at First Baptist Church of Crown Heights, a predominantly Black congregation, which represents a core part of Adams’ base.

Elevated levels of arsenic were found in the drinking water at Riis in 2022, but subsequent testing found no evidence of the dangerous chemical in tap water. Still, some residents tested positive for arsenic in their blood.

“They say don’t worry about it, don’t worry about the chemicals and don’t worry about the water — the water is safe,” Cuomo said. “But they still haven’t answered the question: How did the arsenic get in the blood of the residents?”

Issues like that — which could potentially reflect poorly on both Adams and Hochul — are what Cuomo has been highlighting in calls to other labor leaders as well, two other labor sources told The News.

One of those sources said it isn’t entirely clear which elected post Cuomo might be aiming to run for — mayor or governor — but that it’s abundantly apparent he’s preparing a next move.

Cuomo hitting up key unions as he lays the groundwork for potential NYC mayoral run

Luiz C. Ribeiro for New York Daily News

Governor Kathy Hochul became New York’s first female governor, replacing Andrew Cuomo after his resignation.

“He’s just circling around the wounded prey to see who he’s going to take out,” the source said. “He’s looking for the opportunity to reinsert himself into public office, back into everyone’s lives.”

Other labor sources described Cuomo’s private conversations as less pointed and liken recent contact he’s had with union leaders to his past practice of “checking in,” as one of them put it.

Various police unions have been the object of such check-ins ever since he resigned, according to Ken Frydman, who represents the NYPD detectives’ union and has represented municipal organized labor organizations for decades.

“Career politicians like Cuomo never stop talking to the unions,” he said.

Another labor source noted Cuomo hasn’t explicitly mentioned a City Hall run, but that it’s clear “he sees what kind of trouble the mayor is in.”

The Adams’ administration and his campaign are facing investigations on several fronts, including a federal probe of ties between the Turkish government and his 2021 mayoral campaign.  The mayor has not been accused of any wrongdoing in connection to those investigations.



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