I wonder whether Andrew Cuomo had any idea before he took the stage at Sunday’s “blue-wave” Democratic rally in Kingston that his two-time running mate, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, would be accused of multiple instances of abusing women the next day. And resign a day later. Wow. Schneiderman made what may have been his last public appearance as attorney general in Kingston Sunday as guest speaker at the annual Democratic Brunch.
The now ex-AG, once positioned to become governor should Cuomo move up or out, was considered one of the state’s leading advocates of women’s rights.
What did Cuomo, who immediately called for Schneiderman’s resignation, know about what was about to happen, and when did he know it? There appears no way to know. Cuomo won’t talk and staff will say what they’re told to say.
Cuomo and his staff met behind closed curtains at the Andy Murphy Auditorium Sunday morning as hundreds of Democrats waited for more than an hour for the governor’s appearance. Given the high quality of gubernatorial intel, I have to guess somebody must have heard something by then. It was exploding in media within hours.
Across the river, all-but-nominated Republican nominee Marc Molinaro was quick to connect some dots. Molinaro is suggesting that the reason the state’s top lawyer never went after the administration was that he had skeletons lurking in his own closet. I found that a stretch.
Another example of Albany corruption? Dot. Dot. Maybe. Collusion is probably closer to the mark, though there’s no love lost between Cuomo and the Manhattan state senator who succeeded him as attorney general.
If Cuomo had advance knowledge of the soon-to-erupt scandal, would he have done that one Trump joke? Speaking of widespread abuse of women by “powerful men” across society, Cuomo had called the “silence from Washington deafening.”
He understood, he said, why the president was being quiet. “Can you imagine?” he said to rising laughter. “You’d hear stormy, then windy, then cloudy, then breezy. You’d hear the whole weather report by the time you were done.” Howls. Cheers. Applause.
If he really wanted to leave ‘em in the aisles, he could have added, “And next day, the whole story would have changed!”
Not so funny now that the shoe is on the other foot. One can only wonder when the next one will drop.
Politically, for rank-and-file legislature incumbents — all 213 are on the ballot this fall — the only good thing about this latest scandal from Albany is that it happened in early May, not November.
Here and there
Congressional candidate Gareth Rhodes didn’t exactly leap to his feet when governor Cuomo singled him out for praise at Sunday’s meet-the-gov whistle-stop in Kingston. Cuomo, seeking a third term, is not wildly popular upstate and Rhodes has barely mentioned him. Official records show Cuomo lost Ulster County to Republican Rob Astorino by 1,854 votes in 2014. At the time, Ulster Democrats outnumbered Republicans by some 14,000 members.
Cuomo had buried the inept Carl Paladino by over 16,000 votes in 2010. I sense a trend.
Cuomo noted Rhodes’ six years on his team and parenthetically provided a hint of what it’s like to work for this governor. “Working for me is tough,” Cuomo said. “One year is like a dog year.” For Rhodes, it was a hard day’s night (he was working like a dog), for six of his now 29 years.
Daily News columnist Ken Lovett reports Cuomo recruiting Sullivan County assemblywoman Aileen Gunther to run for John Bonacic’s state Senate seat this fall. Gunther has name recognition and a progressive record, but would she risk a safe seat for a problematic chance at state senate? Curiously, the governor did not mention announced Senate Democratic candidate Jen Metzger of Rosendale at his Kingston appearance, nor Pramilla Malick of Sullivan, who challenged Bonacic in what would be his last campaign two years ago. He did mention Karen Smythe of Red Hook, Democratic candidate against incumbent Sue Serino of Hyde Park. And the wheels go ‘round.
This is water under the bridge, but I wonder what Gardiner Democratic committeewoman Barbara Sides was thinking when she challenged over 90 percent of congressional candidate Erin Collier’s nominating petitions. Throw everything against the wall and see what sticks?
Sides officially challenged all but 284 of Collier’s 2,600 signatures. The state Board of Elections, with hawk-eyed lawyers from both sides going over every line, certified more than 1,451 signatures for Collier. That was 201 votes to the safe side.
Sides, who’s circulated nominating petitions for over 15 years, among them for congressional candidate and fellow Gardiner-ite Patrick Ryan, said she just wanted to “get it right.” The Ryan campaign has denied any involvement.
Assemblyman Kevin Cahill likes to talk about the hundreds of millions for new construction he and Bonacic, with whom he shares credit, have brought home to SUNY New Paltz. With progress comes parking issues to an already cramped campus. Could a new parking garage, perhaps modeled after the iconic college administration tower, be in the cards, I asked the SUNY alumnus.
“If it isn’t, it will be,” Cahill replied.
Forum and fundraiser
Sunday’s “Resisterhood” (love that name) candidate forum at SUNY New Paltz wasn’t all that well attended, but it did get the entire 10-person field opposing John Faso. Joining the seven-member Democratic primary crowd were independents Diane Neal of Hurley and Luisa Parker of Callicoon. Green Party candidate Steve Greenfield of New Paltz was also on the podium.
I thought Neal, a TV actress, had signed up for the remake of Gone With the Wind — nobody had heard a word since she announced her candidacy in Woodstock last February — but then she announced again last week. How do you debut twice for the same show, I asked her during a visit to her new home on Main Street in Hurley. She laughed, explaining that family health issues kept her busy for most of the winter.
Given it was their first picture show, the newbies gave a decent accounting of themselves. But, oh, the format. Sponsors reserved three hours to hear 90-second soundbites on at least half a dozen serious questions on women’s issues from 10 candidates. I was numb after an hour and a half, though no one called for mercy. I think I’ll resist the next one unless they come up with a more humane format.
Guests at Sheriff Paul VanBlarcum’s Kingston fundraiser at Little Italy last month were greeted in the parking lot by a raucous group of protestors, complete with placards, drums, horns and guitars shouting, “Ho, ho, no, no, Paul VanBlarcum’s gotta go!” Repeatedly. Who says the ’60s are dead (for those who remember “hey, hey, LBJ”)?
VanBlarcum had no comment. The three-term Democratic sheriff is opposed for the party nomination by Plattekill’s Juan Figueroa. The retired state trooper was not in the protest band, but may have dug the music. Van Blarcum and Figueroa will square off at the Democratic convention at the Best Western in Kingston on May 21.
Just plain Bill
I have always liked Bill Larkin, even if we bumped heads now and then. He remembered every member of my family, including some people I didn’t know.
An ordinary man who rose to high office, he never lost the common touch. Larkin ran a dry cleaning business in New Windsor before entering public service as a town councilman.
Larkin was the ultimate go-to guy. No one could plumb the bowels of state bureaucracy or tap state coffers like Bill Larkin. Usually, all it took was a phone call and it was done.
Larkin wasn’t much of a speaker. He’d get all tangled up, confused, concluding with something like, “Well, you know what I meant.”
He liked to take visitors on walks along the Newburgh waterfront where he had directed so many state grants. I took one of those tours with him. We couldn’t get past a table without someone yelling out, “Hi, Bill. Hi, senator.” People would run up to him just to shake his hand.
He was probably too conservative for the changing tide around him, but that’s who he was and he made no apologies. He touched people’s lives in many ways. As a vet and a nephew of a Purple Heart recipient, I’ve always been grateful for his work in establishing the Purple Heart Museum in New Windsor. Those were the men and women who shed their blood for our country. Many gave their lives. As a 30-year Army officer (most of it in the Reserves), Larkin recognized that in a most meaningful way.
At 90, Bill Larkin is frail now. Some of that boundless energy has slipped away. He’ll be treated to rounds of dinners and testimonials as he winds down his last year in office. I wish him many healthy years as an elder statesman.
Days after he announced plans to retire, Larkin endorsed Tom Basile, a Stony Point councilman, for Senate. Sounds like a plan, but Basile will find it takes more than coattails to get elected. Orange County Clerk Annie Rabbitt, with the blessings of party powers, announced shortly after.