Cuomo Event Ups Speculation On His Future

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The New York Sun

Boosting speculation about his political ambitions, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo hosted a community forum Wednesday on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, accompanied by a diverse group of federal, state, and local elected officials from the area.

The fate of the 2009 mayor’s race, though, was unclear even yesterday, as rumors swirled around City Hall that Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council speaker, Christine Quinn, were holding high-level meetings to talk about extending term limits to three terms from two through a council vote. Business leaders have been encouraging the mayor to try to run for a third term. The mayor has said repeatedly that he intends to serve out a second term and leave office.

Participants in the forum, in which constituents discussed issues such as health care, housing law, and the environment with staff from the attorney general’s office, included Rep. Jerrold Nadler, Manhattan’s president, Scott Stringer, state senators Thomas Duane and Eric Schneiderman, Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, and Council Member Gale Brewer.

Political observers have discussed Mr. Cuomo, who ran for governor in 2002, as a possible contender for mayor in 2009, and the forum provides an opportunity to raise his profile in the city and make inroads with elected officials whose support would be invaluable in a mayoral campaign.

Still, the politicians present emphasized Mr. Cuomo’s appeal outside the city’s borders and did not discuss a possible mayoral run.

“I didn’t realize the room would be so full,” Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal told a crowd of several hundred people who packed the auditorium. She attributed the turnout to Mr. Cuomo’s “commitment to the whole state” and not just New York City.

Critics have expressed frustration with the current field of likely Democratic candidates, which includes Rep. Anthony Weiner, Ms. Quinn, and Comptroller William Thompson Jr., creating a potential opening for Mr. Cuomo, who has not ruled out a run for mayor. According to a poll earlier this month by Quinnipiac University, 68% of New York State voters approve of Mr. Cuomo’s performance as attorney general, versus 13% who disapprove.

Several observers interviewed at the event said they would be supportive of a mayoral run by Mr. Cuomo. In interviews, the politicians present declined to speculate about his political future.

“I am totally focused on being the majority in the New York State Senate,” Senator Tom Duane said, referring to a possible Democratic takeover of the Legislature this year. “Future campaigns, I am not thinking about. That said, Andrew Cuomo is terrific.”

Mr. Cuomo also declined to speculate about a possible run.

“I’m happy doing what I’m doing, and that’s what we’re focused on,” he said.

According to a spokesman for the attorney general’s office, the event yesterday was part of a series of about a dozen community forums Mr. Cuomo has hosted throughout the state in recent months in places such as Albany, Buffalo, Poughkeepsie, Rochester, Binghamton, and Staten Island. It is the first of these forums to be held in Manhattan.

A former communications director for Mayor Bloomberg and aide to governors Cuomo and Carey, William Cunnigham, said yesterday that the event’s political significance was unclear given the attorney general’s regular duties. Nonetheless, he predicted that other mayoral candidates’ staffers would have their eye on Mr. Cuomo, who has also been discussed as a potential gubernatorial candidate in 2010, while he is in the city.

“My advice is if you’re running a campaign for somebody and you think this is a foray to test the waters then you should worry,” Mr. Cunnigham said in an interview. “But remember, he is the attorney general of the entire state and has an obligation to his constituents. He could just be doing his job.”

The New York Sun

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