The leadership vacuum on the Democratic side left in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic is vast, and not easily filled. While Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders have tried to speak for the party and for their supporters during this time, the media is simply too saturated right now with COVID-19 coverage and there is very little room for anything else. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have been getting a lot of face time as prominent Democrats in leadership positions, but Congress, as a whole, remains as unpopular as ever. What can Democrats do right now to re-assert a stronger voice in the national discussion and provide a contrast to President Trump?
Enter New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, the only major prominent Democrat to receive national media facetime and exposure during the pandemic. There is talk, for as frivolous as it is, of somehow letting Cuomo walk away with the 2020 Democratic nomination because he has been one of the few voices of criticism and/or leadership on the Democratic side not afraid to challenge the President.
As Bloomberg reports, however, the outlandish idea of handing Andrew Cuomo the Democratic nomination is probably due to reporters being stuck at home, under quarantine, with too much time on their hands:
Amid a global pandemic, Cuomo’s near-daily briefings about New York’s response to Covid-19 have become the Democratic counterpoint to Trump’s appearances that most Americans see — and unlike Biden, he’s able to actually put his plans into action.
It’s created a moment in the spotlight for a politician who ruled out running for president in November 2018, and who’s endorsed Biden.
The hashtag #PresidentCuomo trended on Twitter last week. Musings about Cuomo as a wild-card nominee have come from everywhere on the left, including New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd and MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, who called him “president of the coronavirus response,” while a writer at the feminist website Jezebel, Rebecca Fishbein, wrote a piece headlined, “Help, I think I’m in love with Andrew Cuomo???” She wrote another piece after Cuomo called to thank her.
Cuomo has also softened his public image by ribbing his brother, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, during recent interviews.
What about Biden and his large delegate lead? What about Sen. Bernie Sanders, for that matter? It’s not as if Cuomo, simply by deciding to run now, could suddenly become the Democratic front runner. For starters, there are rules, and candidates like Biden and Sanders won’t be willing to step aside for someone who could’ve launched a campaign a year ago but decided to sit on the sidelines.
If we explore further, setting side the unlikely outcome of Andrew Cuomo as the 2020 Democratic nominee, what are the mechanics of such a move? If Joe Biden accumulates enough delegates to win the nomination outright on the first ballot at the convention, then it’s game over for Cuomo. However, if Biden falls short, and voting heads to a second round, then there is a slight chance:
Biden was on track to win a majority of delegates, allowing him to easily win in the first round of voting at the Democratic national convention, when the coronavirus stopped the nominating process in its tracks. That left him and Bernie Sanders — who is still actively running for the job — with little to do but rail against the president and offer alternative plans via live-stream to combat the virus.
The deadline has passed for more candidates to join the race, so the only way Cuomo could become the nominee is if voting went into a second round, when delegates are free to choose. But there are still hundreds of delegates pledged to Sanders, and a few pledged to former candidates like Pete Buttigieg or Elizabeth Warren. They would all have to switch as well.
Cuomo already endorsed Joe Biden, and clearly decided months ago that he was content governing one the largest states in the country rather than traversing the cornfields of Iowa begging for votes. Besides, Cuomo lacks that Midwest, Rust-belt appeal that Biden has captured which means he may have a hard time competing against President Trump outside of the coasts and typical Democratic strongholds.
None of this logic has stopped some Democratic opinion writers who continue to argue for a Cuomo nomination this summer. Take this piece, in Newsday, for example:
If extraordinary times require extraordinary measures, and they do, then this is the time for the Democratic Party to nominate Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo for president.
First, because he is the only elected official in the United States today who has fully demonstrated the leadership, toughness, management skill and humanity that meeting the coronavirus pandemic demands. To be crudely political — and practical — he is the only Democrat who can absolutely beat President Donald Trump in November.
The author, James Larocca, goes on to list more reasons, but they mostly consist of saying that Cuomo is the only Democrat that has shown an ability to land blows on Trump during this crisis. Larocca is arguing that Democrats, as a whole, should make a stern re-evaluation of the field, and the current climate, and decided as a party that they want to make a drastic change to the nomination during these unprecedented and desperate times.
If it wasn’t for the insane nature of politics right now, floating Cuomo for President and replacing Joe Biden would be an April Fools’ joke. However, in the year 2020, where chaos continues to reign amid a global pandemic, Cuomo might have to get in line behind the other outlandish ideas floating around right now.