A leading conservative super PAC that wrought tremendous damage on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2016 has made New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo one of its first targets — long before any real mechanics of the 2020 presidential race get under way.
In an interview last week with Fred Dicker on Albany’s Talk 1300, America Rising Director Colin Reed indicated that his group plans to immediately begin opposition research into Cuomo.
“I think if voters voted to drain the swamp, if Washington, D.C. is a swamp, then Gov. Cuomo’s Albany is the Everglades of corruption,” added Reed.
“We learned with Secretary Clinton that research and narrative, they take time to sink in. And when you have the advantage of a four-year head start, you can really start to drive these things and have them sink in with the electorate,” Reed said.
As Reed laid out to the Albany Times Union, Cuomo’s potential baggage shares a degree of similarity to twice failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
“The opposition narrative against Cuomo is likely to follow a similar arc to one that America Rising pushed against Democrat Hillary Clinton last year,” Reed added.
While reports last week indicated that the Trump campaign considers Cuomo too marred with corruption to launch a viable campaign, several others fully anticipate Cuomo to run for president despite a recent slate of scandals.
“Some of the early work that we did against Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in terms of driving those narratives that she was unethical and untrustworthy, those were things that haunted her throughout the presidential campaign,” Reed said.
“There’s stuff that I want to replicate with Gov. Cuomo, particularly the ethics angle. I think if voters voted to drain the swamp, if Washington, D.C. is a swamp, then Gov. Cuomo’s Albany is the Everglades of corruption,” he continued, “The crony capitalism, and the pay-to-play, and the trading influence for power, that’s the kind of stuff that voters are just sick and tired of right now, regardless of what party they’re in.”
Dicker, once a longtime supporter of Cuomo, has quickly become one of his harshest critics in light of the many allegations coming to fruition against the governor.
“If the allegations that have been made against top aides to the governor are true, there’s never been an administration as corrupt as the Andrew Cuomo administration,” Dicker added.
Joseph Percoco, a top aide to Cuomo, was arrested last year on charges of federal corruption, specifically for federal bribery and fraud.
“He is someone who is as close to the governor as it gets,” said Reed. “[I]t’s reminiscent to me of the situation, in some ways, of Huma Abedin, where these top aides become ensnared in corruption circles of their own and they become a storyline in and of themselves.”
Dicker chided the governor’s decision to ban hydraulic fracturing and his “attacks on the Second Amendment,” while Reed chastised Cuomo for “embracing Bernie Sanders’ plan for so-called free college.”
The Times Union report, coupled with America Rising vowing to expose Cuomo, appeared to have struck a nerve with the Cuomo team.
Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi responded by arguing that the governor has “overwhelming support” from New Yorkers for his agenda, and that “if some Beltway hacks want to waste their special interest money to be on the other side of overwhelming support, that’s on them,” per a Politico report.
America Rising plans to begin compiling their research against Cuomo this Sunday, according to the Times Union.