Cuomo Announces Bid for NY Governor
ALBANY, N.Y. - Andrew Cuomo announced his candidacy for governor Saturday, ripping state government as "a national disgrace" and vowing to restore New York as a symbol "of integrity and intelligence and a source of pride."
Cuomo, a Democratic and the attorney general, made his long expected announcement in a 21-minute Web video (www.AndrewCuomo.com/ThePlan) and was expected to make remarks later Saturday in Manhattan.
Cuomo is seeking to become the 56th governor of New York and hold a seat held for three terms by his father, Mario, from 1983 through 1994.
Cuomo offered a long list of proposals to turn around New York: a cap on property taxes and a freeze on state taxes and public workers' salaries, a reduction of state agencies by 20 percent, a jobs tax credit for businesses and stricter ethics and campaign-finance laws.
"The New York state government was at one time a national model. Now, unfortunately, it's a national disgrace," Cuomo, a first-term attorney general, said.
"Sometimes the corruption in Albany could even make Boss Tweed blush."
But Cuomo said the state has the ability to turn around its fortunes and encouraged New Yorkers to join him in supporting his agenda.
He even cited his own personal failings, when he lost in his first attempt as governor in 2002 and then went through "a very difficult time in my personal life," which included his heavily publicized divorce with Kerry Kennedy.
"So yes, I know it will be hard but I also know we can do it," he said. "And I certainly know one thing for sure: We won't make excuses, we won't take no for an answer, we won't turn on our own, and we won't give up. It's not what we do because it's not who we are. We are New Yorkers."
Cuomo, 52 and the father of three teenage daughters, is the heavy favorite to win the gubernatorial race to succeed Democratic Gov. David Paterson, who is not seeking election.
Paterson was elected lieutenant governor in 2006 as Eliot Spitzer's running mate, and took the post when Spitzer resigned in March 2008 when he was found to have patronized a prostitute.
Cuomo will be officially nominated as the Democratic candidate for governor Thursday at the state Democratic convention in Westchester County.
At his announcement Saturday, he will not announce his lieutenant governor candidate. Who he might pick has drawn wide speculation, with names mentioned including Rochester Mayor Robert Duffy, state Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins of Yonkers, and former Paterson criminal justice director Denise O'Donnell
Polls show Cuomo with wide leads against any of the three Republican candidates for governor - former Long Island Rep. Rick Lazio, Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy and Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino.
He also has a big lead in campaign funds: $16 million on hand in January.
Cuomo's Web address sought to balance shunning Albany for its failings and offering hope that the climate can be improved under his leadership. He called his plan the "New NY Agenda."
Voter anger and turmoil at the state Capitol are running high. In the last few years, the state has faced a bevy of scandals: Spitzer's resignation, Comptroller Alan Hevesi's resignation, the expulsion of a senator and a monthlong Senate stalemate.
The climate, critics say, has led to a dysfunctional government that has translated into higher taxes, a poor business climate and a lack of leadership.
The state's budget deadline of April 1 was once again blown this year, leaving Paterson to issue limited spending bills each week and leading to the closure of parks and the withholding of aid to schools, nonprofits and road construction projects. The state faces a $9.2 billion budget deficit.
Cuomo has been criticized for staying silent on the issues as he quietly prepared his campaign.
But he came out with a full-scale plan Saturday morning, saying, "It is a plan based on hard economic realities, a demand for performance, insistence on a clean government and a mobilized citizenry to make it all happen."
He proposed tighter campaign-finance laws and an independent redistricting commission in 2012 when district lines are drawn to create competitive elections.
Cuomo said he will support the movement to have a constitutional convention in New York, which would allow citizens to put issues on the ballot to change the state constitution.
He said he will oppose a proposal by Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch to borrow $6 billion to help the state out of its fiscal crisis, saying the state must instead cut costs. His property-tax cap would apply to all governments and schools, limiting tax increases to 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less.
Cuomo said he would reorganize the state's 1,000 agencies with a mandate to cut at least 20 percent of them and consolidate the state's roughly 10,000 local governments.
He said there was a time when New York as a national leader in innovation and job creation, and it can restore that image.
"That time doesn't have to be our yesterday. It can be our tomorrow, if we start building a new New York today - a New York that shines brighter still, for my family and for yours. I know we can do it, I know we will do it - together," he concluded.