“What’s up with your governor?” my parents asked, while visiting this past weekend. “Is he going to resign?”
My parents are from Maine, so they can be forgiven for not following every twist and turn of the various scandals that have prompted some of New York’s most prominent politicians to call for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to step down.
But it’s been clear for some time that Cuomo is not going to resign.
The governor himself said as much on Monday, telling reporters he did nothing wrong and has no intention of resigning.
At this point, Cuomo’s refusal to bow out seems less an act of defiance than a statement of fact.
The governor won’t leave office of his own volition, and nobody has proven capable of forcing him out.
Cuomo knows that the best way to weather the scandals that have engulfed his administration is to stay right where he is, deny the allegations against him and wait for the scandals to die down, as scandals inevitably do.
It’s a strategy that’s worked for politicians of all persuasions, including Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, who refused to resign amid a blackface controversy now little more than a footnote, and former President Donald Trump, who was elected in 2016 despite accusations of sexual assault.
Of course, Cuomo has been aided greatly by the New York State Assembly, which bought the governor time by starting an impeachment investigation that is likely to take a long time.
In the meantime, state Attorney General Letitia James has launched her own inquiry into allegations that Cuomo sexually harassed former aides, and the federal government is looking into whether the governor and his aides covered up the number of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes in New York.
The allegations against the governor are serious, and they merited a quick, decisive response.
Ideally, the Assembly would have voted already to impeach the governor, and the case would have gone to the Senate for trial.
Cuomo would have stepped aside while the trial was underway, while Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul would have served as acting governor. If convicted, Cuomo would have been removed from office; if acquitted, he would have returned to work.
Instead, New York now finds itself in a strange state of limbo, beset by scandals that have cast an ugly pall over state government, yet months – perhaps many months – away from clarity or resolution.
It was just 13 years ago that former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer resigned in a prostitution scandal, but it feels like a lifetime ago – a quaint relic of a bygone political era.
Cuomo is following a different political playbook, and so far it appears to be working.
“He isn’t going anywhere,” I told my parents. “At least, not anytime soon.”
Reach Sara Foss at [email protected] Opinions expressed here are her own and not necessarily the newspaper’s.