Is Andrew Cuomo Truly Poised for a Political Comeback?

Andrew Cuomo
Credits: NPR

Governor Kathy Hochul of New York, formerly the lieutenant governor under Andrew Cuomo, has settled with the Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding workplace reform.

This settlement follows Cuomo’s 2021 resignation amid allegations of sexual harassment, prompting widespread calls, including from prominent figures like Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and President Joe Biden, for him to step down.

The agreement between the DOJ and Hochul, who secured her term in 2022, aims to shield the “Executive Chamber” from potential lawsuits under the Civil Rights Act related to discriminatory practices based on sex and retaliation.

Andrew Cuomo sets to return to politics
Andrew Cuomo sets to return to politics (Credits: CNN)

While this settlement might seem like a routine follow-up, it gains significance in the context of Cuomo’s potential 2025 challenge to New York City Mayor Eric Adams. Cuomo, contemplating a return to political life despite his past controversies, eyes a comeback in the 2025 mayoral race against Adams.

The latter, although winning the Democratic nomination in 2021, faces challenges concerning crime, homelessness, and corruption during his tenure. While Cuomo might appear an unconventional candidate, New York’s political history has seen figures like Ed Koch and Mario Cuomo pursuing positions against their initial aspirations.

There is historical precedence for a political rebound following a scandal, as seen with Jimmy Walker’s return in 1929 and Anthony Weiner’s strong candidacy for the Democratic mayoral nomination in 2013.

Cuomo believes he can overcome the stigma associated with his resignation and return to public service, unlike Weiner or Eliot Spitzer, who failed to revive their political careers. However, the recent DOJ settlement between Hochul and the Justice Department questions the feasibility of Cuomo’s political resurgence.

The settlement, tied to an investigative report commissioned by Cuomo and led by New York’s Attorney General Letitia James, highlights instances of unwelcome sexual contact, comments, and preferential treatment toward female employees.

Cuomo’s defense centers on disputing the severity of the allegations and claiming a misunderstanding of his traditional, affectionate demeanor. Despite claims of political persecution, Cuomo’s legal standing remains questionable.

The settlement relies on the James report, a political document with potential legal vulnerabilities, and lacks details about an independent DOJ investigation. Cuomo contends that the settlement adds little new information and emphasizes the absence of an adjudication or finding on the case’s merits.

While polls indicate Cuomo could outperform Adams in a Democratic mayoral primary, the DOJ settlement doubts Cuomo’s political future. The agreement, not constituting an admission of liability, stems from measures already implemented by the Hochul administration.

As Cuomo ponders a political comeback, the legal obstacles may be surmountable, but the ultimate decision rests with the voters of New York City. The aftermath of Cuomo’s resignation and the Time’s Up advocacy group’s implosion further complicate his potential return to the political arena.

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