The recent announcement from State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo that Senate Majority leader Pedro Espada Jr. and family members allegedly looted more than 14 million from the government-funded nonprofit Soundview HealthCare Network reminded me of the last man to hold the seat before Cuomo—the so-called “Sheriff of Wall Street.”
While on a personal level, the two democrats Elliot Spitzer and Andrew Cuomo are not fans of each other, they do share some interesting similarities. (please see Sam Roberts piece in the NY Times…. Spitzer on Cuomo: He’s Driven, Often by Politics)
-Nearly a year in advance of the 2006 race, polls showed Spitzer, the heavy favorite in his run for governor, and four years later Cuomo is looking at the same situation—with basically only token opposition from republicans and in all likelihood is the next governor of New York State.
-Both men stepped on toes in the role of AG. Wall Street and folks like Richard Grasso and Ken Langone were Spitzer’s targets, and Cuomo…took on former allies like former Liberal party leader Ray Harding and continued investigations into fellow democrats like former state comptroller Alan Hevesi.
-Cuomo and Spitzer both have been described as having tempers and being “mean spirited,” at one time or another. But it is very interesting. As a journalist, having known each of them for years, neither Cuomo nor Spitzer in private ever showed such behavior in front of me. I have no first-hand account.
-Both men talked about changing the “culture of Albany.” Spitzer made ethical reform one of the central pledges of his campaign—and Cuomo is now doing the same.
But perhaps Cuomo should be careful what he wishes for.
It was widely believed that Spitzer with his take no prisoners approach was the best man for the job to clean up the mess in Albany.
The belief was that Spitzer would “steamroll” over Albany lawmakers and that same type of sentiment in the polls seems to be growing more and more as it relates to Cuomo.
Rock the boat Mr. Cuomo. Do what you feel you need to do! But keep in mind–Temperament never worked for Spitzer, will it for the “new and improved” Cuomo?
Remember “Day 1, Everything Changes.” That was Spitzer’s often repeated slogan. The only thing that seemed to happen was the job became tougher and tougher for Spitzer by the day.
Spitzer walked in a record win—with nearly 70 percent of the vote but the legislature proved it was not about to roll over for a new governor even if he had a huge mandate and even if he was a fellow Democrat.
Spitzer came in vowing to root out corruption and unethical behavior, but lawmakers tagged him as not being able to get along well with others.
Perhaps Cuomo has learned from history, watching Spitzer take on a powerful legislature resistant to change.
Cuomo if elected will face the same multibillion-dollar deficits projected in current and out years. He will have to rein in state spending overall, and yet have a plan for economic revitalization.
The more things seem to change, the more they stay the same. Sometimes even with our elected officials vowing to fix Albany.