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DNC should go with Cuomo for president

Credit: Newsday/Matt Davies

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.

Why? 

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.

Second, because the coronavirus national emergency has revealed Trump's manifest unfitness for the office he holds, and put on display his utter inability to effectively use the powers and tools of the federal government in the current crisis. The country simply cannot afford four more years of this chaotic, corrupt and cold-blooded administration.

And third, because beyond this crisis many believe that the damage this president done thus far can be reversed. But this is not true if Trump has four more years to further damage and degrade the constitution, politicize the courts, dismantle key institutions like the Environmental Protection Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and make a fool of himself and our country on the world stage.

Yes, former Vice President Joe Biden is on his way to the nomination, and Sen. Bernie Sanders is hanging in as long as he can, pressing his policies and platform. But I believe neither of them will beat Trump. Biden's emergence earlier this week after utter silence was both embarrassing and disappointing. He didn't really have much to say, and he was unable to convey the urgency and clear-headedness the crisis demands. Sadly, he could not project the strength, resolve and capacity the country needs.

Contrast this with Cuomo's management of the coronavirus emergency in New York. He has been clear-headed and clear-voiced, and that has been comforting. As a result, New Yorkers and their families understand what they must do to survive. And the governor is out there managing the state's response, relentlessly foraging for critical medical supplies and equipment, and pushing the Trump administration and the federal bureaucracy to make better decisions.

Can the Democratic Party nominate a candidate in its convention other than one who has come through the primary process? No one apparently knows for sure. But if a nominee is not chosen on a first ballot at the convention, primary-chosen delegates can be released and the convention can open up to other candidates.

Gov. Hugh Carey used to say, "When you've got the votes, anything is possible. When you don't, nothing is possible." I have not discussed this idea with the governor or anyone else, but I strongly believe there are enough votes among the delegates and super-delegates to clear the deck and nominate Cuomo.  Much of our future may depend on it. 

James Larocca served in the cabinets of six New York governors, including as Gov. Mario Cuomo's transportation commissioner (1983-85). Larocca, who ran for the Democratic primary for governor in 1998, is a trustee of Sag Harbor Village.

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