Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s bid for governor was the worst kept secret in state politics. Perhaps the best-kept secret? Who he’ll choose to be his running mate.
Cuomo, 52, the gubernatorial front runner who Tuesday earned an endorsement from Independence Party leaders, suggested he has chosen his ideal lieutenant governor, but he isn’t expected to announce his pick until today. The state Democratic Party also is expected to unveil their selection of a No. 2 Wednesday during their convention in Rye Brook.
The importance of a lieutenant governor is highlighted by the shaky reign of Gov. David Paterson, who inherited half of former Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s term. “New York’s recent political experience makes it painfully clear that a lieutenant governor has to be someone who can do the governor’s job – well,” said pollster Craig Charney, of Charney Research.
As a white, Catholic, Gotham native, Cuomo is also in great need of diversifying his ballot.
“A woman who’s not Catholic and from upstate New York would be the trifecta,” said political consultant Hank Sheinkopf.
Here’s a roundup of some of the front-runners for the state’s second-in-command job:
Denise O’Donnell, 62, former chief federal prosecutor and ex-criminal justice boss under Gov. David Paterson
Pros: Plenty of qualifications as esteemed attorney and administrator, having worked under Paterson. Adds balance to ballot as woman and upstater.
Cons: Said to be strongly favored, but has connection, however innocuous, to Paterson. Oversaw state police and resigned in wake of his aide’s domestic violence scandal.
Robert J. Duffy, 55, mayor of Rochester
Pros: Offers upstate support to Cuomo ticket. Successful mayor who won new aid for city and adds working-class appeal to ballot, having been a police officer.
Cons: Said in March he is seeking re-election as mayor. Charismatic nature could upstage Cuomo.
Byron Brown, 51, mayor of Buffalo
Pros: Plenty of political prowess, having served as mayor since 2005, and former state senator. Adds racial and regional balance to ticket.
Cons: Faced allegations he tampered with a city police investigation into a minor crime in 2007. Also accused of playing favorites in doling out development cash.
Andrea Stewart-Cousins, 59, state senator from Yonkers
Pros: Diversifies ticket as black woman in the suburbs. Has maneuvered Albany as state senator. Both she and Cuomo advocate transparency in government.
Cons: Term as part of the current dysfunctional state senate may taint her. Relinquishing seat may be giving it to Republicans.
Shirley Ann Jackson, 63, president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Pros: Balances ticket as black woman based in upstate Troy. Brings managerial skills to table as president of college. Could breathe fresh life into Albany as outsider.
Cons: Lacks experience in the trenches as politician.
Newsday contributed to this story.