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Dems looking ahead

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo responds to the sexual

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo responds to the sexual harassment report from state Attorney General Letitia James.  Credit: Office of the Governor

Daily Point

Exploring the post-Cuomo landscape

Even Jay Jacobs, the state Democratic Party chairman from Laurel Hollow, has now urged Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to resign in the wake of the dramatic investigative report issued by Attorney General Tish James.

Jacobs’ stance is extraordinary since anyone in his position largely serves at the behest of the incumbent governor. What’s more, Jacobs revealed: "It appears that contrary to what I have advised, the governor may seek to prolong the current situation. I have called the governor this afternoon to inform him of my decision to issue a statement."

An internal party revolt is officially in full swing. This development only accelerates speculation over which other Long Islanders might make what moves if or when Cuomo leaves office, or at least forgoes a reelection bid.

Among the boldface names tossed around amid the tumult:

  • Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove), who ran for governor in a 2006 primary against Eliot Spitzer, could win consideration as a contender next year — especially if more than one lefty urban progressive also competed in a multiway primary. All that would have a long way to play out.
  • Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone’s office balked this week at joining the chorus demanding Cuomo’s resignation. But he hasn’t batted down reports rampant since March that, since he must leave the county executive job next year under term limits, Bellone could pursue a 2022 statewide race to be named later. He has already done polling on his chances.
  • Nassau County Executive Laura Curran has been mentioned before in a wider statewide context, but is running for reelection this year, so don’t expect to hear her talk about other ambitions, if any, for some time.

Cuomo’s hypothetical absence raises questions about the positioning of Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) and perhaps other Republican primary candidates for governor.

From the start, the GOP’s unifying priority in next year’s race has been unseating the third-term, scandal-scarred Democrat; they may need to adjust strategies to compensate for clear disadvantages in an overwhelmingly blue state.

Democratic Comptroller Tom DiNapoli of Great Neck Plaza is widely expected to seek a fourth elected term next year. But like any incumbent, he’d have an interest in helping to determine who else makes the statewide party ticket.

One name you’ll be seeing more in the weeks ahead is that of Assemb. Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, who is seeking to expedite the Cuomo impeachment process now that it has the report from James.

After more than a decade under Cuomo’s control, the state’s majority party considers its options.

— Dan Janison @Danjanison

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Final Point

New York’s lone gubernatorial impeachment

With Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo saying he won’t step down in the face of a damning report from the state attorney general that substantiates the sexual-harassment claims of 11 women, the attention is turning to impeachment.

New York has thrown a governor out of office via impeachment once, in 1913, the only such attempt.

The man was William Sulzer, a Democrat with the delightful nickname of "Plain Bill," a machine politician who turned against the hand that fed him and was badly bitten.

Sulzer was a nine-term member of the House of Representatives out of New York City, wedded to the Tammany Hall political operation, who was denied the gubernatorial nomination he tirelessly sought for 15 years. That ended when a split between Democratic progressives and the party machine made Sulzer, both an outspoken progressive and a cog in the party wheels, the compromise.

But once Sulzer was sworn in he moved to reform the state’s politics with initiatives like pushing for open primaries, rather than nominations by party bosses, to pick candidates.

Sulzer’s open primaries legislation was easily defeated, with opposition led by Assembly Speaker, eventual governor and future presidential candidate Al Smith.

Then the machine turned to destroying Sulzer.

He was accused of using campaign funds he had not reported receiving to speculate on stocks. It seems this was true, but not uncommon, and only became an issue due to the political rivalry.

He’d only been in office for seven months when the State Assembly voted to impeach, 79 to 45.

At the last minute, to try to stave off conviction, Sulzer’s wife claimed she had stolen the campaign funds herself. Apparently, few believed her.

Sulzer was convicted on three articles of impeachment on Oct. 16, 1913, and expelled the next day.

And then? He was elected to the Assembly three weeks later.

Sulzer then ran a failed campaign for governor in 1914 as the Prohibition Party candidate, and another for president in 1916 as the candidate of the American Party. And after that, he practiced law in New York City.

He also became an outspoken supporter of the Baha'i faith, suggesting that his life, post-politics, may have been a bit more serene than before.

— Lane Filler @lanefiller

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