Run, David, run

Elinor Tatum | 4/12/2011, 4:35 p.m.

It is not by accident that the president of the United States was near the Capitol of the State of New York this week to address the people on the economy and higher education. It was not an accident that just two days prior it was leaked that the president of the United States, through intermediaries, had asked for the governor of New York, David Paterson, to take his hat out of the race for the election in 2010.

And what an unfortunate spectacle for our community to see: its first African-American president asking only the third Black governor since Reconstruction and the first African-American governor in the State of New York's history to quit without a fight.

A governor who, in a short and difficult time, has been able to end the dreaded Rockefeller Laws, get our famously unruly Legislature to settle on a budget on time, and lead the MTA out of its most serious financial crisis in recent memory. And on Tuesday the Court of Appeals ruled that Paterson pick Richard Ravitch could indeed serve as lieutenant governor. The former MTA chief had been handpicked by Governor Paterson, leading to some Republicans to file a legal challenge.

It was not an accident that the president said a nice word about the governor and then went on to extol the talents of the state's current attorney general, Andrew Cuomo, son of former Gov. Mario Cuomo. It was just no accident.

It was all planned, but not by whom you think it was. This was a plan hatched by Andrew Cuomo and his people.

The Cuomo family has had a long and complicated relationship with the African-American community. Mario Cuomo's roots go back to Queens community of South Jamaica. Without strong African-American support, he would never have been a two-term governor of our great state in the first place. But those of us with long memories remember how the governor aided in the defeat of our first African-American mayor of New York when he released a critical report on the Dinkins administration's handling of the Crown Heights uprising only weeks before the election--hurting Jewish support for Dinkins--and how he put on the ballot a succession vote for Staten Island, which brought many extra Italian American voters to the polls on Staten Island.

Ultimately, Mario helped bring to power Rudy Giuliani, the mayor with the worst record with the African-American community in living memory. And some say that Cuomo's actions were all part of a deal that he cut with Rudy Giuliani for an endorsement, which Mayor Giuliani gave over his party mate George Pataki in his first run for the governor's race in 1994.

And the son is not without sins in his own right.

Andrew raged a bitter primary battle against the then more experienced H. Carl McCall, who of course was the first African-American to run for the office of governor against Pataki in 2002. At that time, Andrew Cuomo's greatest accomplishment was being the son of Mario Cuomo. McCall, with strong support from our community and a record that included being a state senator and state comptroller, soundly defeated Andrew Cuomo.