The current Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, is fighting for his political career as he becomes embroiled in scandal after scandal. In Spring of 2020, many considered Cuomo as the de-facto Commander-in-Chief given his rapid response and level-headed leadership in the handling of New York’s Covid-19 outbreak. However, his reputation has soured in recent weeks with revelations regarding Covid-19 data manipulation as well as countless sexual assault allegations. Will Governor Cuomo be able to resurrect his administration from the ashes or will he burn out under the pressure of these scandals?
Andrew Cuomo is the son of the late Mario Cuomo, an extremely popular three-term Governor of New York in the 80s. Both Andrew and Mario share progressive yet realistic visions of politics, often appeasing both the left and right of the Democratic Party. This led to sky high popularity of the Cuomo’s amongst New York residents with many viewing the dynasty as unbreakable. The expectation to live up to the great reputation that was ascribed to his father was a major priority of Andrew.
Andrew, also a three-term governor, has been in the position since 2010 but rose to national prominence during the height of the first surge of Covid-19 in April 2020. During the time, President Trump’s handling of the pandemic was seen as being egregiously mismanaged and left significant decisions to the governors. During the peak of the spring surge, New York City was considered the epicentre of the pandemic with footage of mass burials haunting the globe which became a stark warning of what was to come. The rapid and strict response imposed by the Cuomo administration caused infections and deaths to collapse whilst other states continued to peak. Many applauded Cuomo’s strong-handed approach to the response which led to an all-time high approval of 71%, unseen in today’s highly partisan political climate.
Cuomo was riding a wave of popularity which many thought could be sustained and would easily hand him an unprecedented fourth term as Governor, breaking the three-term curse in New York. However, under the surface, Cuomo was suppressing his utter mismanagement of the disease response when it came to nursing homes. In March of 2020, the Cuomo administration required nursing homes to admit patients that had tested positive for Covid-19, a move heavily criticised by medical professionals. The administration rescinded the order two months later but 4,500 Covid-19 patients had already re-entered the homes infecting and killing thousands more residents. This major misstep from Cuomo was exposed in an investigation by the state’s Attorney General who discovered that deaths in this setting were massively unreported, estimate to be inaccurate by over 50%. The cover-up was largely political, with an official close to Cuomo telling fellow Democrats that this was in order to prevent giving President Trump any political ammunition. Although the deadly decisions taken by the Governor has led to a large drop in popularity, it is clear this would not single-handedly bring him down.
However, in December 2020, Governor Cuomo was accused of sexual harassment by former aide, Lindsey Boylan. This was the beginning of the end for Cuomo. Since Boylan, six more women have come forward to accuse Cuomo of a range of allegations from harassment to assault. As a result, Attorney General Letitia James has launched an independent investigation which could prove damning to the Cuomo administration in the coming weeks. We have seen leaders, like President Trump, get away with allegations of sexual misconduct through stringent denial but many doubt Cuomo will be able to pull this off. Democratic leaders in New York have already started impeachment proceedings and prominent New York state politicians, such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Chuck Schumer, Bill de Blasio and many more have called upon him to resign immediately. In the era of #MeToo, these types of allegations are enough to bring down most powerful people, regardless of seniority. Cuomo’s approval rating has plummeted to a mere 38%, a 33% drop in only 10 months. Cuomo has denied all allegations and has refused to resign before the findings of the independent investigation have been released. If the report is in any way unequivocal in its findings of assault, Cuomo will resign. This will undoubtedly end his, once bright, political future and potentially result in criminal prosecution. The rise and fall of Cuomo was one of light speed. The allegations of assault coupled with the mounting evidence on the nursing home cover-up cannot be seen as anything other than political self-destruction and will most likely mark the end of the Cuomo dynasty in New York.