The Brennan Center regularly compiles the latest news concerning the corrosive nature of money in New York State politics—and the ongoing need for public financing and robust campaign finance reform. This week’s links were contributed by Eric Petry.
Despite Criticism, Cuomo Holds Wide Lead Over Challenger, Poll Finds
A recent poll conducted by Siena College shows that although a large majority of New York voters believe Governor Andrew Cuomo’s handling of the Moreland Commission was inappropriate, they still view him favorably and would vote to re-elect him. The poll was conducted from August 4 to August 7 in the wake of renewed federal investigations and widespread criticisms of how the Moreland Commission was abruptly ended. Despite an overwhelming feeling among participants that corruption is still a major problem in the New York State government and general disagreement with Governor Cuomo’s claim that the Moreland Commission was successful, 58 percent of voters said they would vote to re-elect him. These results imply that the New York Times article detailing ways the governor’s office tried to control the commission and the ongoing federal investigation have not caused serious damage to the governor’s campaign heading into election season.
Cuomo Ignores Calls for Debates
So far this election cycle, Governor Andrew Cuomo has ignored repeated calls for a debate from GOP candidate Rob Astorino on the right and Democratic primary challenger Zephyr Teachout on the left. Cuomo campaign officials have responded only by pointing out that debate negotiations typically commence in September, thereby eliminating the chances of a Democratic primary debate. A debate between Cuomo and Astorino, on the other hand, remains possible, but Astorino insists they face each other one-on-one. While debates with many candidates allows for more voices to be heard, it also “works for the incumbent” says Lee Miringoff of the Marist Poll in Poughkeepsie. Some doubt that debates would have much effect on the election, given Cuomo’s huge campaign funds advantage over Astorino and the fact that Cuomo leads by more than 30 points in the polls. Still, good government groups, academics, and many others maintain that debates serve a vital role in elections, giving voters the opportunity to become better informed about the candidates.
Judge Rules Teachout
On Monday, a New York judge threw out the residency challenge brought against Zephyr Teachout's candidacy for governor following a two-day trial in Brooklyn last week. During the trial, election lawyer Marty Connors argued that Teachout has not been a continuous resident of New York for the past five years – a minimum requirement to be governor – because she spent a significant portion of her time out of state and maintained a Vermont address on her driver’s license. Despite these claims, Justice Edgar G. Walker ruled that Teachout has demonstrated “sufficient intent” to reside in New York and dismissed the challenge. In a statement earlier this week, Connors made clear his intention to appeal the decision, saying that “Ms. Teachout admitted under oath that she misrepresented her address on official and tax documents.” The appeal will be heard on August 19.