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CNN Today

Does Andrew Cuomo's Announcement of Candidacy Create Problems for New York Democrats?

Aired January 30, 2001 - 4:43 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: Now, Cuomo's announcement sets up what is expected to be a very competitive Democratic primary. He will face state Comptroller H. Carl McCall, who seeks to become New York's first black governor. For some insight into all of this I'm joined now by Joel Siegel, who's senior political correspondent for "The New York Daily News."

OK, Joel, explain to us the problem that Cuomo is creating for Democrats in the state of New York.

JOEL SIEGEL, "NEW YORK DAILY NEWS": Well, you basically have two very dynamic, very high-profile Democrats who want the same job. And that's always going to cause a problem for any party in any state. You also have an issue of Carl McCall, who stands to become the first black governor of New York, as you said, and he's not an Al Sharpton figure, somebody who has a very remote chance.

He's somebody who has risen through the ranks. He's been elected statewide twice. He's a credible candidate. Even Republicans think he would give Governor Pataki, the Republican incumbent, a run for his money. So, a lot of black elected officials believe it's Carl McCall's time and...

(CROSSTALK)

CHEN: And some party leaders have already lined up behind McCall before Cuomo's announcement.

SIEGEL: Right. Right, many of them. not all. So here comes Andrew Cuomo, looking to say, hey, wait a minute. I think I'm the better person for this job. It sets up a potential division within the party.

CHEN: All right, so you've told us something about what McCall would have to offer. What does Cuomo have to offer?

SIEGEL: Well, he's a gifted speaker. If you close your eyes and hear him talk, he sounds every bit like his dad, who as we all know, is a very gifted orator. He has a well-known name, a magical name in New York politics. He has an ability to raise money, that seems to be apparent. And also his wife is Kerry Kennedy Cuomo. She's a daughter of the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy. She brings some of the Kennedy family mystique into this whole equation. CHEN: Yes, and Kennedy mystique could be particularly important, considering that he is a facing black candidate.

SIEGEL: Absolutely. In fact, Andrew Cuomo has been telling people that if he did face a tough primary against Carl McCall and if he did win that primary and black voters, who are a big, important base of the Democratic Party in New York, if they were up upset and hold grudge a against him, he is hopeful that being married to Kennedy, having Kerry Kennedy Cuomo there at his side, that that could help smooth some of the rough waters that might be there.

CHEN: There may also be some rough waters because of his father. Even though his father's an established name in the state, of course, he did leave some negative images behind as well. Will Andrew Cuomo have to distance himself, in a sense, from his own father?

SIEGEL: Well, you're right. There's a double-edged sword as far as being the child of Mario Cuomo. He was governor for three terms. At his peak he was considered a viable national candidate for president. President -- ex-President Clinton considered him for the Supreme Court.

But when he left -- when he was defeated in 1994, the state Democratic Party was in debt. There was some, you know, grudges that were held and that were rough feelings between him and some other Democrats. That hasn't been forgotten. So while Andrew Cuomo has a magical name to many Democrats, he's also carrying some of the baggage of his father.

CHEN: And we will see what happens next. Joel Siegel from "The New York Daily News" with us. Thanks very much, Joel.

SIEGEL: Thanks a lot.

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