Unless the polls and pundits have it all wrong, the 2010 gubernatorial election in New York is Andrew Cuomo’s to lose. And by all appearances, he does not intend to lose it.
In recent surveys, the attorney general has held a roughly 30-point lead over any likely Republican opponent. Then on Wednesday he named Rochester Mayor Robert Duffy as his running mate-a move that could deliver a good number of additional votes in the upstate region. (Among respondents to an RBJ poll conducted after the announcement, 55 percent said they were more likely to vote for Mr. Cuomo with Mr. Duffy on the Democratic ticket.)
The announcement was greeted as mixed news locally, and understandably so. Most people in the city and surrounding region give Mr. Duffy high marks for his performance as mayor and wonder whether his departure would leave a big leadership gap.
At the same time, a lieutenant governor from upstate could give the region important new clout in Albany.
He can have influence, however, only to the extent that the governor is willing to listen. So the big question is whether a Gov. Cuomo would embrace-or at least be open to-changes in Albany that upstate and in fact the entire state need.
Prior to making his official announcement, the attorney general offered few hints about what policies he would pursue if elected governor. But no one can accuse him of being silent on the issues now.
On Saturday, Mr. Cuomo made a lengthy statement to support his candidacy. One day later, his campaign released a 224-page plan of action called "The New N.Y. Agenda." In almost exhausting detail, he described the steps he’d take to get the state fiscal house in order and cure Albany’s dysfunction.
Among other things, he promised to cap state spending, freeze the salaries of state workers and not raise taxes. He also plans to limit local property tax increases to no more than 2 percent annually.
Many upstate voters naturally will be skeptical that a political insider-in particular, one named Cuomo-will bring about the change that’s so desperately needed.
Mayor Duffy clearly is a believer. Let’s hope this faith is well-founded.