NEW YORK (WPIX)—Democrat Andrew Cuomo made it official Saturday after months of playing coy: He will seek the New York governor's job once held by his father.
Cuomo, who as state attorney general has built a national reputation with his campaigns against public corruption, posted a video and statement online announcing his candidacy, promising to continue his crusade and change the notoriously shady culture of Albany.
"New York state is upside down and backwards; high taxes and low performance," Cuomo said in the video.
"Sometimes, the corruption in Albany could even make Boss Tweed blush," he said, referring to the most corrupt administration in
New York City history, from a century ago. "In my opinion, politicians of both parties, Democrats and Republicans, share the blame.
The formal announcement comes months after a member of President Barack Obama's administration sought to have Gov. David Paterson, low in the polls and low on cash, not seek election to the seat he gained by default, indicating a preference for Cuomo.
The intent was to install a strong candidate at the top of the ticket to assure New York as a certain Democratic stronghold. This fall, every state office and both U.S. Senate seats are up for election, including the long-perceived weak candidacy of Sen.
Kirsten Gillibrand, appointed by Paterson.
The announcement for many Democrats also marks the resurgence of New York politically because it again has a potential presidential candidate in play in Cuomo.
His unusual choice of a video announcement on a Saturday, after refusing for months to confirm a campaign was under way, was intended to have two primary effects. One was to get out a detailed message on what Cuomo plans to do, not just broad campaign speech rhetoric, according to an official in the campaign who was not authorized to talk about strategy and spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The choice of Saturday morning was an attempt to keep the announcement focused on what Cuomo will do for New Yorkers, rather than the political glitz planned for the state nominating convention next week, the official said. It also gets the message into Sunday newspapers nationwide, and Cuomo has continued to work often with print media even in a day of blogs and online news, according to the official, who spoke
"We didn't want to do it on the eve of the convention," the campaign official said. "We are focused on dealing with New York's problems."
Cuomo enters the race with much higher popularity and name recognition than several Republicans seeking the GOP nomination and far ahead in fundraising.
In the video on his campaign website, which includes titles like "New York doesn't work," Cuomo calls for "honest, effective government" on the part of both major parties.
"Both are guilty of playing partisan politics and bringing New York state to the brink," Cuomo said. "My campaign is this simple: I represent the people of the great State of New York, and we want our government back."
The video features New Yorkers saying, "Andrew Cuomo works for us ... for my business and for my family."
Cuomo faces Republicans Rick Lazio, a former congressman from
Long Island; Steve Levy, the Suffolk County executive, also from Long Island; and Carl Paladino, a Buffalo developer aligned with tea party activists in the party. There are no other announced Democratic contenders for the nomination.
Cuomo's father, Mario Cuomo, was governor from 1983 to 1994.
Andrew Cuomo was the secretary for housing and urban development in the Clinton White House. He dropped out of a 2002 race for governor before the primary because of a lack of political and financial support. But he returned four years later and beat a large field of Democrats in the attorney general's race to succeed
Cuomo has since been a force nationally, and his office's public integrity unit has brought several cases against New Yorkers he accused of improperly collecting pensions and misappropriating government funds. The biggest pending case now is against Pedro Espada Jr., the Senate majority leader and a Bronx Democrat.
Cuomo had previously worked for his father, running his campaigns beginning when Andrew was 24 years old and as an adviser. Cuomo also worked for a Manhattan law firm, where he earned millions before mounting the 2006 campaign for attorney general.
He is divorced from Kerry Kennedy. They have three daughters.
Cuomo says he will combat the nation's highest local property taxes and reduce government by 20 percent, and will enlist former Vice President Al Gore to do it.