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Suffolk Closeup: Pols jockey for position if Cuomo leaves

“A series of revelations … have damaged the New York governor beyond repair,” the headline in The New Republic magazine declared. The article below it started: “Andrew Cuomo is hanging by a thread. He may hold onto his job for another day or another week, or even longer. But he is well past the political point of no return.”

Questions: Will an area resident replace Mr. Cuomo as Democratic candidate for governor in the 2022 election if he doesn’t get the party’s nod to run again or loses in a primary contest? And will he resign before that?

With a significant number of women charging he sexually harassed them, following what’s been claimed as a state cover-up of nursing home COVID-19 deaths, a chorus of fellow Democratic officeholders are demanding he quit.

Politico, the prominent Washington-based journal, lists several Long Islanders in an article headed: “The Democrats who could take Cuomo’s place.” The subhead: “With Cuomo wounded, next year could get very interesting.”

High on the list is New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, Politico declares: “DiNapoli, the state’s elected chief financial officer, has a longstanding reputation as the nicest man in Albany, and he’s served in statewide office since 2007 without a whiff of a scandal. Those would obviously be great selling points if voters’ biggest takeaway from the ongoing crisis in Albany is that they should elect somebody who isn’t a bully.”

Further, Politico points out that Mr. DiNapoli “led the Democratic ticket in vote-getting in the past, with his 67% in 2018 out-polling Cuomo by a solid 7 points.”

A wrinkle: Mr. DiNapoli would “have to end his career as comptroller for governor … a job that he seems happy to keep, and one that most people would think is his for however long he wants it.”

Mr. DiNapoli, of Great Neck Plaza in Nassau County, would make an outstanding candidate for governor. I covered him for decades in his time as a highly-productive and extraordinarily collegial member of the State Assembly. Also, for many of those years, he chaired the Legislative Commission on Water Resource Needs of New York State and Long Island.

The Politico list of potential candidates also includes Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Nassau County Executive Laura Curran.

Meanwhile, CNBC has just reported that Representative Tom Suozzi, whose Congressional District includes part of Suffolk, is interested in running for governor.

Mr. Suozzi, a former and able Nassau County executive, tried earlier to run for governor but lost a Democratic primary to Eliot Spitzer in 2006. Mr. Spitzer would later resign the governorship, bowing to pressure, in the wake of allegations he repeatedly used the services of a prostitution ring.

Mr. Suozzi is a resident of Glen Cove. He was elected in 2016 to the House of Representatives from the 3rd C.D., which includes northwest Suffolk and the northern portions of Nassau and Queens Counties.

Both Mr. DiNapoli and Mr. Suozzi “have been engaging with supporters and party leaders to discuss potentially running for governor in 2022,” reported CNBC.

The Politico list also includes figures from New York City and upstate. Among those from the city are Mayor Bill de Blasio, New York Attorney General Letitia James and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and, from upstate, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul.

Ms. Hochul would succeed Mr. Cuomo if he resigns, and  would “suddenly have all of the advantages of incumbency” in then running for governor, notes Politico.

Ms. Hochul would be New York’s first female governor. Her website biography relates how she was raised in Buffalo in a “blue-collar family that instilled a deep passion for public service and activism. She continued that fighting spirit as a student organizer, as a young attorney and aide to Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan …” In 2011 she “entered a special election in the most Republican Congressional district in the state, and against all odds, won as a proud Democrat.”

Andrew Cuomo has very much wanted a fourth term as governor, something that eluded his father, Mario, who was defeated in his bid for a fourth term by Republican George Pataki in 1994. Andrew Cuomo maintains he is innocent of all charges.