Enough so, that the current governor of New York is considering nixing his plans to run in 2016.
For Ambitious Governor, a Clinton Stands in the Way
By RAYMOND HERNANDEZ
Published: September 21, 2012
Since taking office last year, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has done many things well, positioning himself for a possible presidential run.
He has challenged — and outmaneuvered — Albany’s wily Legislature. He has kept his once-notorious temper from spilling over. He has built a prodigious fund-raising operation and earned poll numbers that are the envy of governors nationwide.
But now Mr. Cuomo, a man who likes to determine his own destiny, faces a variable beyond his control: Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Creating frustration for his inner circle, as Mr. Cuomo considers a 2016 campaign for the White House, the eyes of his party are fixed on Mrs. Clinton, whose already sky-high stature among Democratic activists was enhanced by her husband’s crowd-pleasing speech this month at the party’s convention in Charlotte, N.C., and who can count on broad support if she decides to run.
Mrs. Clinton complicates Mr. Cuomo’s ambitions in several ways. Despite the fact that she hails from Illinois, she is now viewed as a New Yorker and commands deep loyalty from the state’s Democratic establishment. And Mr. Cuomo, 54, reveres her husband, former President Bill Clinton; he views Mr. Clinton as a mentor who helped him begin a career in politics, according to Cuomo friends and associates.
The focus on Mrs. Clinton among Mr. Cuomo’s advisers was apparent during the Democratic convention. At one point, a key adviser to the governor approached the Rev. Al Sharpton to ask him if he would support Mrs. Clinton were she to run in 2016, according to a prominent New York Democrat with direct knowledge of the conversation.
“They are totally trying to figure out what she would do,” said the Democrat, who like others interviewed for this article spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid alienating Mr. Cuomo.
Another Democrat close to Mr. Cuomo said the situation was making the Cuomo camp cranky, in part because the governor, a skilled strategic thinker, did not like to be captive to others’ ambitions.
And a top fund-raiser for Mr. Cuomo put it this way: “He’s got a former first lady and former New York senator in his sandbox, and that’s a mess for him. He’s got to wait and see what Hillary will do.”
Mrs. Clinton, 64, served as a senator for eight years before resigning to become President Obama’s secretary of state.
Neither she nor Mr. Cuomo has signaled any plans for the 2016 election, and the governor says he is focused on his current job. (Mrs. Clinton is not expected to stay in her cabinet post if Mr. Obama wins a second term.) But the potential collision between them is gripping the political world in New York.
“In terms of the psychodrama of politics, it does not get any better than this,” the Democrat close to Mr. Cuomo said.
While Mr. Cuomo has deep affection for Mr. Clinton and calls him for advice, his relationship with Mrs. Clinton is less personal.
What is most vexing to those who want to see Mr. Cuomo run is that Mrs. Clinton, given her popularity in the party, can take her time deciding whether to make another bid for the presidency, essentially freezing the rest of the Democratic field.
Mr. Cuomo, in private conversations, has often been frank about his own prospective presidential candidacy. “First, I’ve got to figure out what Hillary is doing,” he says, according to an adviser.
A Cuomo spokesman denied that Mr. Cuomo had said any such thing and insisted that the governor was not positioning himself for a presidential run.
In the weeks leading up to the convention, Mr. Cuomo, who served as the nation’s housing secretary under President Clinton, turned down offers from old associates of his father, former Gov. Mario M. Cuomo, and former colleagues from the federal housing department to talk quietly about his presidential prospects, as other prominent Democrats, like Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland, began planting the seeds for possible candidacies, according to a close Cuomo adviser.
Among those yearning for a Cuomo presidential campaign in 2016, a divide has emerged: some suggest that if Mrs. Clinton ran, the governor’s loyalty to Mr. Clinton would prevent him from joining the field.
But others reject the notion that Mrs. Clinton poses a serious obstacle to Mr. Cuomo, saying she is enjoying a political honeymoon right now but still has many of the weaknesses that plagued her in the past, including a polarizing image.
By contrast, they say, Mr. Cuomo is a fresh face whom Democratic officials, donors and activists will naturally want to court — provided that he wins re-election in 2014, when Mrs. Clinton will most likely be out of a job in politics.