Governor Andrew Cuomo’s role in ending a two-week lockout of utility workers in New York City adds to a list of accomplishments that may bolster his image as a potential presidential candidate.
Cuomo had stayed out of the contract dispute between Consolidated Edison Inc. and Local 1-2 of Utility Workers Union of America until yesterday, when he jumped in to get more than 8,000 workers back in the field to prepare for a band of thunderstorms targeting the biggest U.S. city. Within a few hours, a deal was struck, ending a lockout that started June 30.
“When people are far apart, at times you need somebody who has that personality and that charisma that the governor has,” said Harry Farrell, president of the union chapter. “That was the key.”
The victory is the latest for Cuomo, a 54-year-old Democrat, who has been riding approval ratings near 70 percent since he took office in January 2011. He pushed through a divided Legislature a law legalizing same-sex marriage, a pension overhaul that raised the retirement age to 63 from 62 and the first consecutive on-time budgets since 2006.
“He’s developing a reputation of being effective at politics and getting things done, in contrast to what’s happening at the national level,” said Robert Shapiro, a political-science professor at Columbia University in New York. “It’s a boost to his stature as governor and beyond, and to the idea of him running for president.”
Cuomo, who has amassed $19.3 million for his 2014 re-election campaign, according to campaign filings, is planning a policy summit next month that will probably include veterans of President Bill Clinton’s administration, where Cuomo served as secretary of Housing and Urban Development, said Josh Vlasto, the governor’s spokesman.
“We will have state and national experts because we want the best information, advice and exchange of ideas to solve these complex problems facing New York,” Vlasto said in an e-mailed statement. “It has absolutely nothing to do with any other office than governor of the State of New York. Sometimes a policy forum is just a policy forum.”
A poll released July 25 by Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut, found that Cuomo still has work to do if he wants the public to support a bid for the presidency four years from now. Only 36 percent of New York voters want Cuomo to run for the White House in 2016, and less than half, 40 percent, said he’d be good at the job.
By contrast, 61 percent said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a former New York senator who battled President Barack Obama in 2008 for the Democratic party’s nomination, would make a good president.
“New Yorkers clearly aren’t ready to talk about Andrew Cuomo and the White House in the same breath,” Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said in a statement.
Cuomo himself has been reluctant to jump into the fray, saying at an April press conference that talking about political aspirations only makes his work more difficult.
“All I’m working on is being the best governor I can be,” he said.