“I felt like he was ready,” said the Rev. Ruben Diaz Sr., a former state senator and ex-New York City Council member who spoke to Cuomo last week. “No one knows what’s going to happen in the city.”
The demands come as Adams’ mayoral campaign faces a federal investigation that has deepened in recent weeks and increased uncertainty around the mayor’s political future. Cuomo would not run in a primary race that includes Adams, whom he considers a friend, three people familiar with the former governor’s thinking said.
Diaz, a Pentecostal minister with socially conservative views, left the city council after making comments widely considered homophobic. But he remained a staunch supporter of Cuomo and Adams despite their differences on issues such as LGBTQ rights.
“My opinion is if he runs, he will win,” Diaz said of Cuomo in an interview. “People need a leader. Although Governor Cuomo and I have our differences, we have had many fights in the past, and aside from our differences, I think he was a great governor.
Cuomo could not be reached for comment and a spokesperson declined to discuss his future plans.
Scandal-scarred politicians in New York have failed in past efforts to return to elected office: former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, in particular, failed to win a 2013 Democratic primary for office. comptroller of the city of New York.
And a mayoral bid from the former three-term governor would come with myriad complexities as he seeks to rehabilitate his name.
On the one hand, a candidacy would be hampered by the base of support that Adams and Cuomo share in New York: black working-class voters, labor unions and the business community. A Cuomo versus Adams primary would split what has been a successful coalition for the two Democrats and potentially help a more progressive challenger.
Yet some of his supporters see a solution.
“While difficult, he could still be competitive,” said Basil Smikle, a former executive director of the State Democratic Committee who remains close to Cuomo. “He has the support of the African-American and Latino communities. He enjoys the support of more moderate voters.”
A number of factors could make the environment more favorable for a Cuomo mayoral bid, as voter discontent has grown over issues such as the influx of migrants and public safety. A Marist College poll Tuesday showed that only 37 percent of city voters approved of Adams’ job.
Cuomo also could have an advantage if the chaos surrounding New York City’s budget problems worsens, Smikle said.
“I think it could happen if the mayor’s legal problems or the quality of life and crime issues that a lot of people are concerned about get worse,” he said.
Adams’ campaign did not respond to messages seeking comment.
Cuomo’s current residence is unclear — for much of his tenure as governor, he split his time between Albany and Westchester County.
But he was born and raised in Queens, lived in the city as an adult, and the only residency requirement for the job is living in New York on Election Day. (POLITICO reporting in 2021 raised questions about where Adams was living just weeks before the Democratic primary, but he still gave up his nomination.)
New York political circles have been abuzz in recent days after some voters received a poll testing a variety of potential Cuomo comeback messages.
Poll questions included whether Cuomo should apologize for his behavior toward women and whether he would be a competitive candidate in a hypothetical Democratic primary against Gov. Kathy Hochul and state Attorney General Tish James.
“It goes beyond exploration; This is a complete message test. They walk the talk,” said Evan Roth Smith, pollster and founding partner of Slingshot Strategies. “It’s something that’s expensive. This is a careful and careful survey.
Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi denied any connection to the poll.
“The future is the future, and it’s often asked these questions, which I think are fueled by the fact that many people are facing a crisis of trust in government on many levels and are now viewing circumstances in which he left office like a political railroad. it was,” Azzopardi said in a statement.
Cuomo, 65, himself has not ruled out running for public office again as he also faces lawsuits filed against him by women who accuse him of harassment.
“Do I think I could run for political office again? Yes. I think I have a lot of options, and there are a lot of issues that I’m working on now that I care about,” he said in an interview with POLITICO in October. “I have not ruled on any decision; I haven’t excluded any of them. »
The former governor once considered returning to elected politics without launching a campaign.
And Cuomo has conducted his own polling since leaving office in August 2021, including polling in the 2022 gubernatorial election after a series of campaign-style ads aired on New York television. He ultimately stayed out of the Democratic primary, which Hochul won.
Kathy Wylde, the influential president and CEO of the Partnership for New York City, a business association, is skeptical of Cuomo’s ability to stage a successful comeback.
“He did the same thing with Governor Hochul in the gubernatorial race,” she said. “But I haven’t heard from him, no. And I think at this point, Adams is safe for a second term.
Mutual friends of Adams and Cuomo believe a head-to-head primary between the two men will not happen.
“He’s legitimately close to Eric Adams, and there’s no way he’s running against him,” said a friend of Cuomo’s who was granted anonymity to speak candidly about the dynamic.
The Rev. Al Cockfield, pastor of a Brooklyn-based church that has close ties to Cuomo and Adams, wants the former governor to aim higher than the mayor’s office.
“I think Governor Cuomo should run for president of the United States,” Cockfield said. “The nation needs him.”
Publicly, Cuomo has sympathized with Adams over the investigation into the mayor’s campaign and whether Adams colluded with the Turkish government and received illegal campaign donations.
Adams, whose electronic devices were seized for several days by federal investigators, has not been charged with any wrongdoing.
“I think they were very harsh here on the mayor, publicly humiliating him,” Cuomo said in an interview with Fox 5 in New York this month.
Cuomo would also face a similar challenge from voters after his decade-long administration ended in scandal. Cuomo is being sued by two women, a former aide and a former state police security detail, for sexual harassment allegations.
Cuomo sought to counter allegations in an explosive report released by James’ office by deposing several of the women who accused him of harassment in the report and having them questioned by his lawyers.
Cuomo has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
Progressive critics of the mayor and former governor take a dim view of Cuomo’s potential return to power — a sign of the problems he would face in the city.
“The city already has a mayor mired in corruption scandals,” said Ana Maria Archila, co-director of the Progressive Working Families Party. “We don’t need another one.”