Andrew Cuomo has four distinct vulnerabilities in his Democratic gubernatorial primary battle with actress-activist Cynthia Nixon. One is the widespread conviction on the left that his real loyalty is to wealthy donors and to the GOP–renegade Democratic alliance that runs the New York Senate. A second is the stench of corruption wafting around some of Cuomo’s best friends. A third involves ragged public facilities under the governor’s purview, most notably the MTA.
But in a campaign statement during her first trip to Albany as a candidate, Nixon is focusing on a fourth Cuomo vulnerability that could represent a truly tender spot for the incumbent: his personality.
“We’ve all seen it: Andrew the bully,” Nixon told reporters at a news conference at a hotel down the street from the Capitol.
“He bullies other elected officials. He bullies anyone who criticizes him. He even bullies the media with his reference to ‘your small questions.’
“But worst of all, his budgets bully our children and our families by shortchanging them, by boxing them in, by denying them the opportunities they are owed.”
I don’t know if the image of a budget acting as a “bully” quite works. But it does link Cuomo’s personality to his politics and policies. Nixon did offer an even blunter verbal weapon for doing that: comparing Cuomo to the big bully in the White House:
It reminds me of the behavior we see from Donald Trump every day. My experience has taught me that there’s only one way to deal with a bully. You have to stand up to him. You have to send a loud, clear message that you will not be bullied.
This Cuomo-baiting places the governor on the horns of a dilemma. If he responds to this line of attack with his trademark combo platter of rage and intimidation, he will just be making Nixon’s point for her. And if he ignores her, the other aspects of her case against him will get more play. But the idea that Cuomo and Trump are two sides of the same narcissistic coin — fair or unfair — is potentially corrosive for the governor in a party that’s mostly united in loathing the 45th president.