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Cuomo goes from a rising star to an imploding one

Cuomo goes from a rising star to an imploding one

Only New York Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoCNN insults #MeToo movement, provides happy ending for Jeffrey Toobin New York lawmakers pass bill allowing gender-neutral 'X' on state ID Republican NY state senator: Single-payer health care bill won't get a vote this week MORE (D) himself wants him to remain governor more than Republicans do. Democrats, on the other hand, would like Cuomo gone yesterday and his smorgasbord of scandals gone forever. Once among their brightest stars, Cuomo is falling fast and threatens to take Democrats with him.

Cuomo’s scandals are growing in quantity and quality, with no sign of stopping. In Cuomo’s sexual harassment accusations, another woman seems to come forward each week; so far, the total stands at nine. Deepening this scandal are reports that the governor’s administration attempted to discredit at least one of Cuomo’s accusers. New York’s attorney general is investigating the charges already, while Albany police are also involved on at least one charge.

Cuomo’s list of scandals began with his decision to put COVID-19-infected patients into nursing homes, thereby pairing those who are most dangerous with those most vulnerable. Predictably deaths occurred, yet, somehow New York’s nursing home COVID-19 death toll appeared comparatively good. Then came the report that Cuomo’s administration had underreported nursing home deaths, only to be compounded by revelations that Cuomo’s administration lowered report numbers. Again, an investigation is underway, this time including the FBI

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Add to these two scandals another involving a possible coverup of faulty contractor work on a multibillion-dollar bridge project. Despite serious escalating accusations, Cuomo has refused to resign. Fighting for his political life, Cuomo likely knows resignation or removal are the same for him — admission or confirmation of guilt is a distinction without a difference. Either will prove politically fatal. Democrats therefore worry that Cuomo will fight and take many of them with him. 

Cuomo’s sexual harassment allegations threaten Democrats’ most electorally important constituency — women. Women make up a majority of voters and most of them vote Democrat (2020 exit polling showed 52 percent of voters were women and they voted 57 percent for Biden). Democrats cannot afford to lose their support; appearing hypocritical by defending Cuomo could be a sure-fire way to do so. 

Cuomo’s nursing home scandal promises reexamination of government COVID-19 actions on the worst possible grounds: deaths amongst the most vulnerable exacerbated by Cuomo’s actions. The underreporting and altered numbers arouse coverup suspicions. That Cuomo wrote a much-publicized book about his “leadership” during COVID-19 only worsens a bad situation.  

More broadly, Democrats realize they are overextended on their COVID-19 actions. They embraced lockdowns earlier, imposed them more strictly and extended them longer than Republicans. The public’s negative reaction is building, as witnessed by California’s recall targeting their Democratic governor. Democrats hardly want another reexamination in another blue state.  

Of course, Republicans would gain from Democrats’ losses in all these areas, but they are already gaining in two others now. 

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First, Cuomo’s scandals draw attention away from Democrats’ national agenda. President BidenJoe BidenEx-Biden adviser says Birx told him she hoped election turned out 'a certain way' Cheney rips Arizona election audit: 'It is an effort to subvert democracy' News leaders deal with the post-Trump era MORE is still in his first 100 days, which, historically, is a new president’s most significant period. Additionally, he has just signed his first major piece of legislation and, at $1.9 trillion, possibly his biggest. Yet, Biden and other Democrats face unwanted questions about Cuomo’s scandals rather than their accomplishments.  

Second, there are the charges of hypocrisy. More than embarrassing these mask real divisions within their ranks — not just in New York, but inevitably nationally. Over Cuomo, a fault line runs between party and constituencies that splits Democrats. Divisions, if allowed to persist (and Cuomo appears intent on fighting to the end), threaten future cooperation and leave openings for eager Republicans to exploit. 

Cuomo has gone from being a rising star to a falling one. Democrats do not have to await the negative effects, but they have to rightfully worry how negative these could become if Cuomo’s scandals continue and continue growing. 

Like a falling star, Cuomo is attracting the attention that had been spread across the political firmament. This is already bad for Democrats who want that attention focused on their other luminaries. The longer Cuomo’s scandals go, the more attention they will draw away and the more they will draw Democrats apart.   

Worst of all, Democrats fear Cuomo’s star collapsing entirely, becoming a black hole. A star of such magnitude would surely draw others into it should it collapse. Cuomo’s sexual harassment and nursing home scandals have that potential to pull other Democrat concerns — women’s issues and lockdowns — into them. 

Democrats know Cuomo has the star power to do all this and that his scandals have the gravity to pull the party in. They need Cuomo’s star to set as quickly as possible, but Cuomo refuses. Democrats cannot look away but they have little control over what they are watching. Republicans are quite happy to look on and watch the political fireworks unfold. 

J.T. Young served under President George W. Bush as the director of communications in the Office of Management and Budget and as deputy assistant secretary in legislative affairs for tax and budget at the Treasury Department. He served as a congressional staffer from 1987 through 2000.