Cuomo Wins WFP Title, But Bruised In The Fight

Cuomo Wins WFP Title, But Bruised In The Fight

Cuomo Wins WFP Title, But Bruised In The Fight
June 2, 2014

It happens in boxing sometimes. A reigning champ from the WBA, WBO, WBC or IBF agrees to fight an opponent who on paper is supposed to be an easy bout and will serve up a triumphant night for the titular champion.

Depending on how colorful the pre-fight hype and antics are from the challenger, they could be enough for some aficionados to think that there's a chance that the mismatch is a real pairing. The Great Hope hype feeds off itself.

I wasn't thinking in boxing terms as we kept hearing of the discontent from within the Working Families Party with Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The noise got louder. It started to sound like a lot of hot air; an out-of-proportion appraisal by the WFP of the party’s clout and what it meant to the governor’s reelection effort. 

Team Cuomo wasn't taking them seriously. At least that's the impression I was left with after a conversation several weeks ago with an insider from that very guarded and masterful politico’s camp.

Similar optimism about Gov. Cuomo not needing the WFP line on the ballot came from other sectors of the political spectrum, including esteemed colleagues.

Clearly, once Bertha Lewis took to the mic on Saturday and, as reported, started to land tongue jabs, uppercuts and combinations on Cuomo the Champ, it became apparent that the governor was in for a long night.

The WFP title was at stake. The Governor and his handlers—I know AC does his own thing—quickly realized there wasn't going to be a KO in this bout. It wasn't just Ms. Lewis throwing all she could at Cuomo.

WFP speakers piled on in their condemnation of Governor Cuomo's first term. They were not afraid of the Champ and let him know it.

The sounds of discontent became more vociferous as soon as Cuomo began to address them via a pre-recorded video. At that point, Cuomo’s corner had to know their fight plan wasn't going to carry the night.

The fix this time for Cuomo might have been solid among the likes of Bill de Blasio and the leaders of the WFP in back room deals, but once it hit the floor of the convention it fell apart. 

As I followed the proceedings via the excellent postings of political reporters who witnessed the fight as it unfolded, read articles as they appeared and had a few phone conversations, it became clear that Cuomo was getting what he didn't expect. He was being whipped!

Particular criticism of the governor was for his relationship with the Republicans in the Senate and the IDC.

I began to think of my conversation with Wayne Barrett (see here and here) for City & State TV about the very complex Andrew Cuomo.

When I asked Barrett in part two of the interview: "Have you ever seen anything in your lifetime when a person like Jeff Klein pulls something like this and gets away with a powerful governor... so, is there a wink from the governor here?" 

Wayne Barrett responded, in part: "I think there’s much more than a wink. I think this an alliance that Andrew has facilitated … and if you let Dean Skelos, the head of the Republican conference in Albany, if you let him define what kind of Democrat you are and you have national ambition, I think you’re in trouble when you go out running among liberal Iowa Democrats or liberal New Hampshire Democrats and you got to sell the record that Dean Skelos and Jeff Klein allowed you to have."

The very insightful veteran investigative political reporter isn't the only one who feels that way in the state.

At the end of the night, the WFP could only deliver a split decision for the titleholder. After getting pummeled, Andrew Cuomo got the WFP line with 58.6 percent of the vote.

The more relevant take away is that a little-known political novice and Fordham University law professor Zephyr Teachout, who had been in the race all of one day, received 41.3 percent support from WFP.

In boxing or in politics that's not a good sign for a Champ. Especially when the percentage of the punches hit vulnerable parts of the governor's political body. What's worse for Cuomo is that the challengers know they left him bruised.

Gerson Borrero