New York Times Refuses to Endorse Cuomo for Governor

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks at a press conference on new corruption legislation on April 9, 2013 in New York City.  Cuomo announced the Public Trust Act which would establish a new class of corruption crimes and require officials to report corruption. New York State politicians were arrested in two bribery cases last week.
Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

The relationship between Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York Times has been at least contentious for a while now, and was not helped by the front-page exposé last month about his potentially shady dealings with the state's anti-corruption Moreland Commission. Today, the editorial board dropped its hammer, declaring that Cuomo has "failed to perform" what he called Job 1 — "to clean up Albany" — and, as a result, will not be receiving their endorsement in New York's September 9 primary.

While his challenger from the left, campaign finance reformer and anti-corruption advocate Zephyr Teachout, whom I profiled in this week's magazine, did not score the Opinion Page's full seal of approval either, her unlikely rise to relative prominence continues with some relative praise from the Paper of Record. A tie, in this case, might as well be a win.

"Why endorse no candidate in a major state primary?" The Times explains:

Here’s how we see it: Realistically, Governor Cuomo is likely to win the primary, thanks to vastly greater resources and name recognition. And he’ll probably win a second term in November against a conservative Republican opponent. In part, that’s because issues like campaign finance rarely have been a strong motivator for most voters. Nonetheless, those who want to register their disappointment with Mr. Cuomo’s record on changing the culture of Albany may well decide that the best way to do that is to vote for Ms. Teachout. Despite our reservations about her, that impulse could send a powerful message to the governor and the many other entrenched incumbents in Albany that a shake-up is overdue.

While Teachout insists she's campaigning to win, not as a protest gesture, the Times isn't quite buying her odds of an Eric Cantor–style upset. ("More broadly," the editorial continues, citing her "less well-defined" plans in education and business, "it is not clear how Ms. Teachout, with limited executive and political experience, would be able to get any of her best ideas past the snarling self-interest of the Legislature, which respects only cunning and raw power.") But if she were just trying to send a message, the Times has amplified it, loud and clear.