Just when you thought things were getting boring…

Who is Tim Wu?” you ask.

Ah ha! Glad you asked. Tim Wu is the brilliant Columbia University law professor who has tackled mission impossible. He has chosen to run against Kathy Hochul, the upstate former congressperson, for lieutenant governor of New York. Hochul is Andrew Cuomo’s handpicked choice to run with him as HIS candidate for the spot.

Wu is the running mate of Zephyr Teachout who is running in a head-to-head primary against Cuomo. Clearly Cuomo is worried about the insurgency since he tried to get Teachout thrown off the ballot. He failed. The problem for Cuomo is that primaries attract very few voters and those who do vote are most likely to be left of center. Both Teachout and Wu are favorites among many of those very same people. It doesn’t stop there. Many of the state’s top labor unions are not supporting Cuomo because their members see him as far too conservative for them. Add to that, a journalistic bomb dropped by the most prestigious newspaper in the world, The New York Times, which has decided to endorse Wu. In New York State politics that Times endorsement is considered at earthquake level.

It doesn’t stop there. Wu has guts and isn’t afraid to say what he thinks. Wu, as a top legal thinker, makes it clear that he thinks that Cuomo may have committed a crime when he put a stop to his Moreland Commission, which was looking into crimes committed by public officials and others. Wu says that if it could be proven that he did that because investigators were coming too close to Cuomo’s contributors, it might be seen as that classic quid pro quo that gets office holders into big time trouble.

It should be remembered that when you have a Democratic primary election, very few people turn out, and as Willie Sutton once put it when asked why he robbed banks, retorted, “Because that’s where the money is.” In fact, there are those who point to Republican Eric Cantor’s loss in his much talked about Republican primary to a small group of dedicated people who wanted him out of there.

In a statewide Democratic primary election the votes are mainly in the five counties of New York City. Hochul is an upstate politician. She reflects the very conservative values of her former congressional constituency including views antithetical to those of her own presumed running mate Andrew Cuomo. Among these problematic areas are gun control and immigration. Clearly the Cuomo people will invest some real money in getting Hochul elected. You can expect them to start showing up on a TV set in your home.

Now pay attention. If Timothy Wu were to wrest the lieutenant governor nomination from Hochul, it could be potentially devastating to Cuomo. Under New York law, you run in the primary as an individual, not as a unit with the gubernatorial candidate. But then you run as a twosome in the general election. If Cuomo wins and has to run with Wu he will not get the votes from the other parties like the Working Families Party where he will be running with Hochul. This could diminish what many people expect to be a landslide victory. That’s important because, as many of us know, Cuomo harbors thoughts of running for the American Presidency. To do that he wants to win at an all-time high including higher than his famous father who won his first reelection.

Just when you think things are boring, you get proven wrong.

Originally published in the Legislative Gazette, 9/2/14

I recently interviewed Wu on public radio for an hour and he said something that really has me thinking. Since his father is Taiwanese and his mother is English, he became fluent in Mandarin. He is now a great favorite among Asians in New York and, as the first statewide Asian candidate will receive something approaching a unified vote from that community. To put it mildly that could be huge if there is a huge turnout from that group.

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