By Tom Precious
ALBANY - Gov. Andrew Cuomo, facing up to near-certain defeat in a potential 2016 Democratic presidential primary against Hillary Clinton, says he will stand down if she decides to run.
So claims the today's New York Post, which quotes unidentified sources as saying Cuomo will stay on the sidelines and not enter the race if she is in it.
Seems like a no-brainer, considering the party wrath that would come Cuomo's way if he were to try to block Clinton from becoming the nation's first female president. Recall that it took some years for Cuomo to rebuild his image just within New York state Democratic circles after the 2002 governor's race when he challenged H. Carl McCall for the party's nomination to run against Gov. George Pataki. McCall, seeking to become the state's first African-American governor, drained vital resources in a nasty race against Cuomo, who dropped out of the race shortly before the primary vote.
Clinton has not decided on the 2016 race. For a year or more, Cuomo has not ruled out a 2016 bid, and has done little to quiet the speculation about him running. Team Clinton would not be thrilled if Cuomo challenged Hillary Clinton, especially since it was former President Bill Clinton who hired Cuomo to run the nation's housing agency. [The governor's father, Mario Cuomo, had a brief, and very unsuccessful, write-in effort against Bill Clinton in the 1992 New Hampshire Democratic primary for president.]
"The governor has told people in recent weeks that there's not a chance for him to run if Hillary gets in the race because she'll easily wrap up the Democratic nomination,'' a source told the Post today. Of course, if Clinton decides not to run, Cuomo did not rule out jumping into the 2016 field, the Post article suggests.
UPDATE: Cuomo, on a public radio station interview this morning, disputed the Post article, saying flat out that there was no truth to the report. "Hillary Clinton is going to do whatever Hillary Clinton is going to do, and I'm doing what I'm doing, and I'm focused on running this state,'' he told The Capitol Pressroom show.
So, he was asked, the article's claims were wrong? "There is no truth to the assertion that I'm talking presidential politics and strategy and what Hillary Clinton should do or shouldn't do or what I'm doing presidentially,'' Cuomo said. He said his energy is on running the state government and improving New York on a number of fronts. "To the extent I'm talking politics, it's my race next year,'' Cuomo said of his 2014 re-election campaign.
UPDATE: Who wants to stay out of this story? Sen. Charles Schumer, who served with Clinton in the Senate and has to work with Cuomo both on policy and political matters. "No comment,'' the normally talkative Schumer said today when asked about the Cuomo/Clinton matter before dashing into an elevator. [Schumer was at the state Capitol making his annual rounds with Democrats in the Assembly, where he once served.]