Stephen Reader covers politics for It's a Free Country, WNYC's interactive politics site. He joined the station in 2010 and has also worked for Studio 360, WNYC's Peabody Award-winning show about art, culture, and creativity.
Who Had the Better Week—Cuomo or Christie?
Friday, May 04, 2012
Both rock stars in their own right, both trying to right their states' ships, and both building serious momentum for a potential presidential run. Every Friday, we'll look at whose week will look better on a résumé come 2016.
Check out last week's results here.
Governor Cuomo appointed not one, but two new commissions this week: One to tackle education reform, the other to oversee infrastructure projects. Both sidestep existing government organizations that fall under the Legislature's purview.
Cuomo's education reform commission bypasses the State Board of Regents, which is named by the Legislature. WXXI's Karen DeWitt reports that not a single member of the Regents will sit on Cuomo's commission.
The infrastructure panel will consolidate oversight of capital plans previously divided among different institutions. Cuomo will appoint nine people to this panel, while majority parties in the Assembly and Senate will name two apiece. Not only will the Governor be the majority shareholder in the new commission; its recommendations won't have to be approved by the Legislature.
If positive change comes to New York, Cuomo wants his name on it from start to finish. Existing channels for reform aren't enough for the Governor; he'd rather open new ones himself, so he can own the results (if they're good), the process (if it works), and the story (in case it doesn't). Now he just has to be careful to avoid giving everyone "historic" fatigue.
- Verdict: +1
Clinton would cruise
We joked about it last week, but the Hillary hubbub might be here to stay.
Despite his popularity as Governor, Cuomo wouldn't beat the current Secretary of State if the two were to face off in New York's 2016 presidential primary, according to a poll by the New York Daily News. Clinton would get 60 percent of the vote compared to Andy's 25.
Cuomo's approval rating may be around 70 percent, but pollster Doug Schoen notes that "she's represented New York for two terms in the U.S. Senate, has been a presidential candidate, is the secretary of state and her husband was President of the United States. I think that explains everything you need to know."
- Verdict: -1
Campaigning for Walker
If there is one edge Christie would undeniably enjoy over Andrew Cuomo in a 2016 contest, it's the mountain of experience he'll have on the national political stage compared to the governor who refuses just about every national media interview that comes his way.
Having campaigned for Mitt Romney and taken a recent trip to Israel, Christie took his talents to Wisconsin this week to support Republican Governor Scott Walker in his recall election fight.
People across the country are getting big doses of Christie, and Christie's getting big doses of experience for a national campaign. That could prove invaluable in 2016.
Another advantage for Christie: Appearing on various campaign trails throughout the country, Americans, not just New Jerseyans, are getting to know him. And not just politically; his personality is the first thing people notice, and usually the first thing they talk about.
In the past we've pointed out the benefits of keeping a lower national profile and controlling the narrative until it's time to run, which is what Cuomo's doing. But admit it: All politics aside, you'd rather have a beer with Christie (unless you're Frank Lautenberg). Seeming like a relaxed, regular guy counts for a lot in a general election. Just ask Mitt Romney.
- Verdict: +2
Claims GOP leadership on education
At the Alliance for School Choice's annual policy summit in Jersey City this week, Christie told the conference that Republicans were taking the lead on education reform.
"You know, I don't want to make this partisan," Christie said, "but let's face it — and I say this in urban communities all the time — you continue to vote for these folks, put them in office, and they continue to not address the needs of your families and your children."
Republican Governors Mitch Daniels and Bobby Jindal also spoke at the conference. Like Christie, they both enjoy national prominence and come up in conversations about higher political ambitions. Unlike Christie, they've managed to pass school voucher programs in their states; Christie's still pushing for one in New Jersey.
Pivoting away from positive assessments of Barack Obama's education reforms is a step in the right direction if Christie wants to win a Republican nomination. Beating the teachers' union, and being able to tout a voucher program along with Daniels and Jindal, would be huge.
- Verdict: +1