How news­pa­per en­dorse­ments work, or don’t

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - OPINION - Alan Char­tock Capi­tol Con­nec­tion Sun­day Free­man colum­nist Alan Char­tock is a pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus at the State Univer­sity of New York, pub­lisher of the Leg­isla­tive Gazette and CEO of the WAMC North­east Pub­lic Ra­dio Net­work. Read­ers can email him at alan@w

On the sub­ject of en­dorse­ments:

Some of the best pa­pers in New York, in­clud­ing the New York Times, have en­dorsed Andrew Cuomo for gov­er­nor, Ju­maane Wil­liams, an of­ten­times critic of Cuomo for lieu­tenant gov­er­nor and none other than one of my all time fa­vorites, Ze­phyr Tea­chout, for at­tor­ney gen­eral. They are not the only news­pa­pers in New York to do so. Clearly, they have their doubts about Cuomo and want to in­stall some fierce watch­dogs to keep an eye on him.

On the one hand, these news­pa­pers gen­er­ally want to ap­plaud the sit­ting gov­er­nor for get­ting things done, but they seem queasy about his meth­ods for mak­ing the “get­ting done” hap­pen.

For his part, Cuomo was forced to stick with his present lieu­tenant gov­er­nor, Kathy Hochul, de­spite the fact that he wanted her to go, an ac­tion that she re­fused to do. Perhaps had she run against Ni­a­gara Con­gress­man Chris Collins, she would have won, but she didn’t know that Collins was to be in­dicted so close to his re-elec­tion bid. In­stead, she’ll have to sit with Cuomo, who is not likely to ac­cept her re­fusal to do what she was told.

Put an­other way, this very nice and com­pe­tent woman will be at­tend­ing a lot of fu­ner­als. No Joe Bi­den, Barack Obama re­la­tion­ship is this. In any case, this lieu­tenant gov­er­nor thing has re­ally turned out to be quite a mess since in New York lieu­tenant gov­er­nors run in sep­a­rate pri­maries from the gov­er­nor and he risks los­ing his pre­ferred choice as a run­ning mate in the Demo­cratic, as well as some mi­nor, par­ties. That can prove to be the kiss of death when all the bal­lots are counted.

As far as the at­tor­ney gen­eral spot goes, the in­de­fati­ga­ble Ze­phyr Tea­chout seemed to have caught the pub­lic imag­i­na­tion. To Gov­er­nor Cuomo, once an at­tor­ney gen­eral him­self who used that of­fice to his as­cent to the gov­er­nor’s “sec­ond floor,” the prospect of a clearly tough-on-Cuomo AG sit­ting so close by was none too pleas­ing. His can­di­date, pub­lic ad­vo­cate Tish James, had prob­lems be­ing too close to Cuomo and in the end had been fight­ing to un­cou­ple her can­di­dacy from Cuomo’s. She got caught in a bit of a hail storm by turn­ing down the Work­ing Fam­i­lies Party des­ig­na­tion, some think be­cause Cuomo was so sore at that group for en­dors­ing Cyn­thia Nixon. No mat­ter how much James tried to get out from un­der that dilemma, she only seemed to make it worse. I can tell you that my per­sonal in­box is very crowded with ads from James. In fact, her protes­ta­tions of in­de­pen­dence have only got­ten her in deeper. The fact that both Tea­chout and Wil­liams were en­dorsed by pres­ti­gious news­pa­pers is just one sign that things were go­ing to be tougher than ex­pected for Cuomo.

Cyn­thia Nixon told me just re­cently that Oca­sio-Cortez light­ning could strike her cam­paign and that she could win. While that did not seem pos­si­ble, I get were she was com­ing from, since many re­cent polls have been shown to be se­ri­ously flawed.

A fac­tor in all of this is what we call “iden­tity pol­i­tics.” Ze­phyr Tea­chout is not black, but Ju­maane Wil­liams is, as is Tish James. It was in­ter­est­ing to watch how close their two for­mally in­de­pen­dent cam­paigns had be­come. Cuomo’s choice of Tish James for at­tor­ney gen­eral was cer­tainly the right move. He’s a shrewd master at ticket build­ing and eth­nic pol­i­tics.

The ma­jor en­dorse­ments of Tea­chout and Wil­liams were no more than the pa­pers cov­er­ing their bets. Yes, they know that Cuomo has got­ten things done but they also know that he was sur­rounded by cronies who were cor­rupt. That had to have the guy ner­vous, so ner­vous that his cam­paign put out a let­ter call­ing Tea­chout anti-Semitic. That turned around and bit him in the rear end.

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