CUOMO DROPS OUT
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Former federal housing secretary Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday he is
quitting the governors race and throwing his support to state
Comptroller H. Carl McCall.
We need healing now, the elder son of former Gov. Mario
Cuomo said in a brief telephone interview with The Associated Press.
Cuomo, 44, was making his announcement at an afternoon news conference
in New York City to be attended by former President Clinton and
Rep. Charles Rangel, a top McCall supporter. McCall, 66, was not
going to the event.
Cuomo said he did not feel he would have a chance of beating McCall
for the Democratic nomination without launching a heavily negative
advertising campaign. While Cuomo said some advisers recommended
that, he had rejected the notion.
Cuomo also said he had fallen behind in the polls because McCalls
television advertising was better. I accept responsibility
for that, Cuomo said.
Talks over a possible Cuomo withdrawal began Sunday and by Tuesday
morning they involved Clinton as well as aides to Cuomo and McCall.
Those familiar with the talks, who spoke only on condition of anonymity,
said Cuomo asked for certain conditions to be met, including a high-profile
role for him in the McCall campaign, before he would agree to leave
the race. The comptroller balked, the sources said.
A top Cuomo aide, speaking on condition of anonymity, denied any
pre-conditions had been demanded by Cuomo.
With recent polls showing Cuomo trailing well behind McCall, a
pre-primary endorsement of his rival could help the former Clinton
cabinet member survive an electoral loss and maintain viability
as a potential future gubernatorial candidate. The advantage to
McCall would be no additional pre-primary attacks from Cuomo that
could make the comptrollers race against Republican Gov. George
Pataki more difficult.
We had negative campaign commercials ready to go that wont
be run, the Cuomo aide said. This is a classy thing
to do and is being done for the good of the Democratic Party.
Word of the possible withdrawal by Cuomo came as an independent
statewide poll reported that with the Sept. 10 Democratic primary
just a week away, McCalls lead over Cuomo had widened to more
than 20 percentage points among likely Democratic voters.
The poll, from the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, had
McCall, the only black candidate ever elected to statewide office
in New York, leading Cuomo, 47 percent to 25 percent, among the
likely Democratic voters.
The poll of 452 likely Democratic primary voters was conducted
Aug. 26 to Sunday and has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage
The winner of the Democratic primary will face Pataki, maing his
bid for a third term.
Polls have consistently shown Pataki with big leads over both Democrats.
Cuomo entered the governors race early last year with a lead
in the polls over McCall. Cuomo quickly proved to be a more adept
fund-raiser. The McCall camp laid Cuomos early success to
the name-recognition factor.
While Cuomo had served as his fathers top political adviser
for years, the race against McCall was the first as a candidate
for the younger Cuomo. There were missteps along the way
the most visible in April when he complained that Pataki had ceded
post-Sept. 11 leadership to then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Cuomo said
the governor had merely held the leaders coat.
Cuomo was roundly criticized for the remarks and even his father
later said it had been a political mistake.
McCall ran a fairly steady campaign focusing on his rise out of
poverty, a lengthy resume that included a stint as a deputy ambassador
to the United Nations and as a Citibank vice president, and his
promise to improve education in the state.
While officially neutral in the race between Cuomo and McCall,
there have been signs in recent weeks that President Clinton and
his wife, New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, have been leaning
toward the comptroller
On Friday, the Clintons were at the State Fair in Syracuse at the
same time as Cuomo. The trio didnt even manage a photograph
together. On Monday, Sen. Clinton had McCall marching by her side
in the West Indian American Day parade in New York City.