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Editorial: Cuomo deserves Democratic nomination for governor

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo speaks during a news

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo speaks during a news conference in Manhattan on June 2, 2014. Credit: Charles Eckert

The folly of the challenge to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo from the political left makes the case -- concisely and compellingly -- for his nomination as the Democratic candidate for governor.

In Tuesday's primary, Cuomo faces law professor Zephyr Teachout, who is not qualified to run the state. She says she is running because Cuomo isn't a true Democrat. But what exactly is she running against? Just Cuomo's most significant achievements in his first term as governor: a property tax cap, reform of the Long Island Power Authority, the first statewide teacher evaluation system and tax cuts.

In short, Teachout and her supporters want a return to the big-government, big-spending ways that New York can't afford. Teachout is smart and is convinced that her brand of liberalism, mostly forged by the elite brigades of Manhattan academia, is what New York needs. In a perfect world where money comes from a bottomless pot, some of her ideas would gain traction.

For most Democrats, Cuomo's sober reality of the possible prevails. And that's why a few public unions are angry, especially those representing teachers who resent his evaluation plans and the property tax cap. Cuomo's program to give bonuses to outstanding teachers threatens these unions.

"Am I pro-union, at any cost? No," Cuomo says. "I'm a progressive Democrat, but not one without judgment."

Cuomo's socially progressive but fiscally prudent leadership has earned him the party's nomination for a second term. He's proved that a state that for decades had been in turmoil and disarray can be governed, and that budgets can be delivered on time and balanced. The state is in its best fiscal shape in years.

Cuomo was a strong presence for Long Island and New York City following the devastation of superstorm Sandy. He pressed Congress for disaster relief and New York received $30 billion in aid. His administration is doing such a solid job of getting the region back on its feet that one tends to take such competence for granted. Through sheer determination, he brought marriage equality to New York. He got construction started on a new Tappan Zee Bridge, a critical investment in the state's infrastructure, with amazing speed.

Has Cuomo delivered all that he promised when he ran for governor almost four years ago?

No, he allowed partisan redrawing of election districts to continue and he walked away from his proposal to ban candidates from accepting the nomination of more than one political party, both of which ensure that incumbents continually get elected. Using a Moreland Commission investigation as a political cudgel to get ethics legislation passed was not a wise decision.

Cuomo has chosen former Rep. Kathy Hochul to run for lieutenant governor. She would be a fine partner, one who understands the needs of economically depressed upstate New York. On the primary ballot, voters must check separate boxes for Cuomo and Hochul and both must win if they are to run as a team in November.

In his first term, Cuomo has proved an effective governor with an outstanding record and should be the Democratic Party's standard-bearer.