The GOP race for governor gets interesting and NY protects against cyberattacks

Rounding up the week’s political news

Governor Kathy Hochul announces formation of Joint Security Operations Center to Oversee Cybersecurity across the State

Governor Kathy Hochul announces formation of Joint Security Operations Center to Oversee Cybersecurity across the State Darren McGee- Office of Governor Kathy Hochul

Another week, another unforced error from New York City Mayor Eric Adams. This time, it comes in the form of his plan to appoint two pastors with a history of anti-gay positions to his administration. He defended the decision much to the chagrin of members of the LGBTQ community in the city, who protested against the appointments recently, and he’s finally agreed to meet community leaders. At least it looks like outdoor dining is on its way to becoming permanent in Manhattan and masks are coming off in city schoolyards. Neither is related to Adams’ appointments and their backlash, but it’s nice to look at the bright side of things too. For the rest of this week’s news, keep reading.

New York protects against cyberattacks

Gov. Kathy Hochul joined with mayors from across the state to announce a new joint effort to protect the state from cyberattacks as concerns over Russian aggression bubble as the country invades Ukraine. Hochul and the local leaders unveiled the new Joint Security Operations Center in Brooklyn as the new “nerve center” for the state’s defense against cyberthreats. Along with the new center, Hochul said the state is providing $30 million to governments around the state to shore up their own technologies against hackers. New York City Mayor Eric Adams also announced that he signed an executive order that placed the city’s own cybersecurity command center under the purview of the newly created Mayor’s Office of Technology and Innovation.

New twists in the GOP primary for governor

Forget about the Democratic primary for governor, the GOP race is where it's at. The contest saw several new developments in the past week shortly before their nominating convention, promising to keep things interesting. A new challenger that emerged is Harry Wilson, a businessman who previously ran for comptroller in 2010, coming pretty close to beating state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli in his first election. Running as a more moderate option compared to the current field of candidates, many GOP insiders had reportedly been trying to recruit him into the race slightly earlier in the cycle, and some expect him to reach the 25% vote threshold at the upcoming convention to get on the ballot without petitioning. Wilson also will self-fund his campaign with his ample amount of personal wealth, promising a competitive race. His main competition is Rep. Lee Zeldin, generally considered the presumptive GOP nominee. And Zeldin made some news too, announcing his pick of Alison Esposito, an NYPD cop, as his running mate. An almost-candidate for New York City mayor on the Conservative Party line last year, Esposito has never held elected office but helps bolster Zeldin’s pro-police, tough-on-crime branding. And to top it all off, an old campaign staffer for former Gov. George Pataki is trying to get him to run for office again, a development that could result in drastic upheavals in the current campaigns.

Andrew Cuomo (L) and Michaela Kennedy-Cuomo at the Eastside Heliport in Midtown on August 10, 2021 in New York City. | Gotham/GC Images

Cuomo comeback?

He’s down, but definitely not out. Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo is planning to flood the airwaves with a new ad declaring his vindication on charges of sexual harassment. It features clips from news reports about various district attorneys declining to bring criminal charges against him. It doesn’t, however, include the additional context that those prosecutors found the various women credible in their complaints even if they couldn’t bring charges. And an unnamed state trooper is suing Cuomo and his aides in civil court over his alleged behavior, attempted cover-up and retaliation. The ads are paid for by his campaign, which still has millions of dollars. Cuomo has not been seen in public in months since his resignation and hasn’t said whether he plans to run for office again. But rumors abound that he may try to challenge state Attorney General Letitia James, the target of his and his allies’ ire over her office’s report that precipitated his resignation. All this despite recent polling showing that he remains deeply unpopular in the wake of his scandal.

New York responds to Ukraine crisis

After weeks of simmering tensions, Russia officially invaded Ukraine, causing a flood of Ukrainian refugees to flee the country as Russian troops advanced towards the capital. In New York, elected officials denounced Russia’s actions and expressed solidarity with Ukrainians. Hochul said that the state is prepared to accept refugees should the need arise, though the state will likely need additional funds. In New York City, Ukrainian Council Member Inna Vernikov has been vocal in her support for her home country and condemning Russia, as have most other local officials without her personal connection to the attack.