WHO: Attorney General
WHAT: New York State
It’s an irony of politics that the man most responsible for the rebirth of Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is Eliot Spitzer. It was Spitzer who elevated the profile and prestige of the office that Cuomo now occupies. And it was Spitzer, in turning power over to David Paterson, who provided Cuomo with easy prey. The state’s top law-enforcement official has become the shadowy face of competence and order. Though diligently pursued, his cases haven’t left a large footprint. Cuomo’s targets—unscrupulous lenders, highly compensated bankers, child pornographers, and a disgraced comptroller—have been low-hanging, populist fruit. But his steady hand has earned the respect of an Albany Establishment tired of turmoil. His adversaries warn of a Spitzer-size temper and fondness for intrigue. To their frustration, Cuomo has lately allowed his work, not his personality, to define him. “Cuomo represents the new version of the man on the white horse who will come in and make things right,” says historian Fred Siegel. “You can project on Cuomo anything you want today,” says political consultant Hank Sheinkopf. Democrats aren’t overthinking it. They’re projecting victory in 2010.