Thursday, September 05, 2002

Cuomo's Collapse

Successful campaigns for governor depend, in large measure, on a rationale. Ed Koch lost the New York State Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 1982 because his campaign lacked a rationale. He was a popular Mayor, he was bored, he wanted to be governor. The whole endeavor was entirely self-interested. Voters got that and sent him back to his day job.

As it happened, Koch lost to Mario Cuomo. As my friend Mishkin points out, it's interesting that Andrew Cuomo's campaign collapsed (albeit more spectacularly) for precisely the same reason that Koch's campaign fell short. There was no rationale. There was name recognition and Kennedy family borrowed interest and a blizzard of policy papers, but no compelling argument. And since most New York State Democrats view this year's gubernatorial election as a certain loss, the question of who should be the nominee involved picking the most useful loser.

From the point of view of any number of leading New York State Democrats (especially the state's two US Senators), Carl McCall makes an almost perfect sacrificial offering. There's no chance he can win. But they all get credit for backing the black guy. That's a rationale people like Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton can understand.