It was the office of Letitia James, the state attorney general, whose policies are significantly to the left of Cuomo’s, that pointed to the discrepancies. What is the status of Cuomo’s relationship with James, and is this just one example of a larger power struggle?
Hard to say, but knowing the governor’s general us-versus-them approach to government, I suspect James won’t be invited to brunch at the mansion anytime soon. The strength of her report ran deep: It prompted the first major release of new, higher numbers, which undermined the governor’s oft-repeated argument that the state’s nursing homes were doing better than most. .
The surprising force of James’ condemnation of the governor was particularly striking because the governor supported her and helped her get elected for the first time in 2018. I would be shocked if Cuomo were so supportive in 2022, when she is re-elected.
This scandal earned Cuomo criticism from many in his own party, especially those on the left. What does this say about the loyalty that the savvy and ruthless governor appreciates and dislikes from his fellow Democrats in New York when the situation arises?
The schism – between the center and the left – which is rife at the national level within the Democratic Party is in full swing in New York. The governor is not liked by many progressives in the state, who see him as a die-hard centrist who sometimes plays a progressive for the cameras. Cuomo rejects this, even once saying, “I’m the left.” But that hasn’t convinced groups like the left-wing Working Families Party, which continues to wage war on Cuomo, including backing its main opponent, Cynthia Nixon, in 2018.
Which brings us to next year, when the governor is in place for a fourth term: he will most certainly face a primary from that wing of the party. And this nursing home issue – its lack of transparency, its tendency towards muscular and violent governance – plays directly into the progressive argument that Democrats need someone new on State Capitol.
Just a few months ago, many observers called Cuomo some sort of heroic leader of the pandemic, presenting him as a sort of foil for President Donald Trump. There were even murmurs about a possible position in Joe Biden’s cabinet. What lasting damage do you think the current scandal could cause to his reputation?