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Cuomo playing it close to the vest

The term "Rose Garden campaign" has been part of the nation's politics for generations now, and it looks like it will be part of New York's this year, too.

More than three weeks after New York Democrats nominated him for governor, Andrew Cuomo came to our town Thursday to talk about his new tools to combat child pornography -- and not much about his campaign.

He lauded Gov. David Paterson for the way he has handled the ongoing budget crisis, and he said he's against borrowing and raising taxes -- but that's about it.

Welcome to the Rose Garden -- New York style.

Cuomo seems to be waiting for Republicans Rick Lazio and Carl Paladino to fight it out in September, pointing out during an interview with The Buffalo News in his downtown office that Lazio (who was taking shots at him last week) is not even yet the GOP candidate.

That seems to be the way it will be for a while. The games have not yet begun.

*The Democratic primary between Assemblyman Sam Hoyt and North Council Member Joe Golombek looms as one of the premier contests of the year. And because Phil Rumore and his Buffalo Teachers Federation are lining up against Hoyt, a powerful force will be on the Golombek bandwagon.

Rumore says the New York State United Teachers union will soon join the BTF in endorsing Golombek.

"That means 2,422 teachers who are registered Democrats in the Hoyt district," Rumore said, not to mention the money and phone banks that will also enter the equation.

Hoyt, of course, has his own organizations and clubs ready to campaign for him, as well as a long alliance with Cuomo. But the big question that remains unanswered is if billionaire Tom Golisano will dive headlong into legislative races the way he did in 2008.

If he throws half a million dollars into campaigning against Hoyt, as he did the last time around, any other effort will seem rather tame.

*It was no coincidence that Buffalo Niagara Partnership President Andrew Rudnick stood with Senate hopeful Jack Quinn III a while ago to back the assemblyman's plan for pension reform. Rudnick's outfit is joining with other business groups around the state this year aiming to raise millions to pour into mostly GOP candidates -- especially in the Senate.

And with Quinn given a chance to swipe the Democratic seat now held by incumbent Bill Stachowski, you can bet Rudnick will identify that race as a major recipient of the business coalition's largess.

*Another name entering the State Supreme Court mix this year (we would need to order extra space to list all those vying for five spots) is Ken Schoetz, the former Erie County attorney and official in the Attorney General's Office who is now a honcho with Empire State Development Corp. Schoetz is talking to people about the possibility, with no final decision.

*Speaking of Supreme Court races, with both Republicans and Democrats battling each other in various primaries, it's a good bet the judicial situation will not clarify until the morning after Primary Night. That's when it will be clear how much power will be wielded by the party chairmen who traditionally determine those candidates -- especially at Democratic Headquarters.

*Erie County Democratic Chairman Len Lenihan has taken his hits lately as some Dems joined with Repubs to nix his influence in the County Legislature. His candidate recently lost a bid for reappointment to the Water Authority, and Lenihan-backed incumbents like Hoyt and Stachowski are facing real trouble.

Nary a peep has sounded challenging Lenihan for the chairmanship this fall. But that's another situation with a way of changing on the morning after Primary Night.

e-mail: rmccarthy@buffnews.com

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