In California and New York, two popular Democratic governors are in trouble.
2020, as it turned out, wasn’t a wonderful year for most of us.
It started out auspiciously enough- for an election year, anyway. New Year’s resolutions were made, vacations planned, gym memberships purchased. 2020 trucked along solidly enough for a month or two, and then…
Well, we were all there, weren’t we?
COVID-19 happened and the entire world shut down/lost its mind/stopped turning. Frightened of a novel new virus, isolated in our homes and/or working long hours as essential workers; pumped full of partisan vitriol in an extremely contentious election; forced to watch a horrifying snuff film on our Twitter feeds and face a racial justice reckoning not seen since the Rodney King riots of the 1990’s, 2020 never stopped giving.
Even well into 2021.
It made for good television, as the temporarily inflated ratings and ad revenues of all your favorite cable news programs- and your least favorite- can rightly attest.
But it’s been a horror comic/dystopian sci-fi epic/medical drama/reality television program none of us wanted to star in.
True, over-worked executives got a break from the office- which they enjoyed, minus the myriad headaches that came with COVID-19 an immediate transition to remote work. But for every salaried New York executive who left the tight quarantine of the city for more lavish and comfortable cloisters in Martha’s Vineyard, there were thousands of public works employees, health care workers, and other essentials who were forced to endure it.
For all their efforts, they are now dealing with the backside of an employment crisis, and are having to work even harder; good help is harder than ever to find these days.
But not everyone was a COVID-19 loser.
Xi Jinping came out ahead, with the protests in Hong Kong handled far more tidily than the Chinese military might have done. Donald “The Tariff Man” Trump was defeated by COVID-19, if not by the masterful negotiation skills of Chinese Communist Party officials. The CCP hasn’t even had to answer for the Wuhan virology lab, which is looking increasingly certain to be the origin point of all our long-suffering.
2020 was a good year for Jeff Bezos, Amazon and other large corporate entities, who were much more adept at adapting their business model to a purely online and delivery format than their small and medium-sized competitors.
Many of those competitors are no more, but Jeff Bezos was able to realize his lifelong dream of traveling to space.
The Democratic Party, never one to let a crisis go to waste in the modern era, parlayed COVID-19, the economic impact of the shut-downs, and the general state of emergency, to rout Trump in 2020.
2020 was an excellent year for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. He was christened by an adoring press corp as “America’s Governor”. He penned a best-selling book. He won an Emmy for his masterful press conferences, which many progressives preferred to getting their updates from the Trump Administration.
2020 was a decent year for California’s Governor Gavin Newsom as well. True, the media wasn’t quite as enamored with Newsom, but he also proved an excellent foil for Donald Trump.
Xi Jinping and Jeff Bezos are still ahead of the game in 2021, but for Andrew Cuomo and Gavin Newsom, the meteoric rise is over.
Gov. Cuomo has gone from potential candidate for president to the subject of a criminal investigation amid allegations of sexual harassment and retaliation against accusers. Gov. Newsom has gone from a popular California governor elected with over 60% of the vote, to one likely to survive a serious recall effort, to someone who’s future in politics is anything but certain.
Newsom has tried to warn his fellow Democrats that failing to support his candidacy will have repercussions for the entire party if Republicans in California manage to oust him.
Many high-profile Democrats, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren have signaled their strong support for Newsom and he might yet survive the recall, though the latest polls haven’t been good news for him.
Andrew Cuomo is another story, with prominent Democrats from President Joe Biden on down calling publicly for his resignation. After the conclusion of a months-long investigation, officials found the Governor sexually harassed 11 women and took retaliatory action against one after she accused him.
Plenty of politicos are predicting Cuomo will survive this shellacking anyway. Like Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, who failed to resign in the wake of a blackface scandal, Cuomo seems intent on brazening it out.
Al Franken, some Democrats are fond on mentioning, should have resisted pressure to resign in similar manner.
Cuomo might, as political strategists have pointed out, even be able to survive an impeachment, if it comes to that.
Gavin Newsom appears to be losing ground in independent polls, and has been reduced to appealing to his fellow Democrats for help and invoking the name of Donald Trump in an attempt to scare California Democrats to the polls.
But Democrats may have a bit of a problem in California, and indeed elsewhere, however. Turnabout is fair play. Republicans in California were extremely successful in 2016, and reasonably successful in 2020 for one reason:
Republicans can ballot harvest, too. And are they ever intent on doing so.
Republicans are using the sharp spikes in crime and inflation in their campaign bids to retake the house in 2022, and in state and local races across the country. Democrats are dismissing the crime and the inflated prices as minor, temporary, and due entirely to COVID-19.
Meanwhile, a carton of humanely-raised organic eggs now costs $6.99 at your average Whole Foods and gas is $3 a gallon at the pump, if you can find it that cheap. Whether the higher prices are here to stay or not, working Americans are already feeling the pinch in their pocketbooks.
They are also feeling the impact of rising rates of violent crime and property theft. While Democrats like Newsom and Cuomo favor the theory that these things are temporary, not everyone is so sure.
Eric Adams, a former New York City police officer and recent winner of the New York City Democratic Primary for Mayor, just called himself the new face of the Democratic Party.
If Adams is right, the old face of the Democratic Party is Andrew Cuomo and Gavin Newsom.
Adams ran a tough-on-crime campaign in New York City; and carried every borough except Manhattan. For tips on how to appeal to working-class voters, Andrew Cuomo and Gavin Newsom might want to take a peek at the Adams playbook.
If it isn’t already too late.
(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)