Who Had the Better Week—Cuomo or Christie?

Friday, April 06, 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 who's week will look better on a résumé come 2016.

Check out last week's results here.

Andrew Cuomo

Breaking out the infra bank

Twenty e-mails: That's how many Governor Cuomo's press office sent out in just two days this week touting almost $1.5 billion in new infrastructure investments across the state.

The first wave of e-mails announced that New York Works, the Governor's infrastructure bank—created last December, but funded by legislation just last week—would spend $1.2 billion to accelerate road and bridge projects. The second wave of e-mails laid out another $143 million for improvements to parks.

Large investment in public works projects—seems just the least bit New Deal-y, no? Transportation Nation's Andrea Bernstein notes that New York Works stands out at a time when such spending has slowed across the country.

In recent years, Governors have killed big infrastructure projects, and Congress has yet to pass a surface transportation bill. But Governor Cuomo is taking full political advantage of his new infrastructure bank by pushing out word of popular projects — which not only provide needed area parks, but also create jobs around the state.

Note the quick turnaround here. Less than two weeks after negotiating a pension reform package reviled by public employee unions, potentially compromising a large chunk of the Democratic base (and the party's bank), Cuomo cuts the other direction and pumps money in to infrastructure, which Democrats traditionally love. It's like going all-in some flowers for your girlfriend a week after forgetting your anniversary.

What's next? A Gumby rendition of "Let's Stay Together"?

  • Verdict: +3

Sweet 2016

It's unscientific and all in good fun, but a feather in Cuomo's cap nonetheless.

In honor of March Madness, the Washington Post politics blog The Fix held a "Sweet 2016" bracket competition that wrapped up this week. Readers voted on 2016 presidential potentials from both parties, and the #1-seeded Cuomo was crowned champion on Monday, beating out Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) in the final match.

Chris Christie, a #2-seed, fell to Rubio in the semi-finals.

  • Verdict: +1

Chris Christie

Jersey to Jerusalem

Yes, that's Chris Christie, custom yarmulke and all, praying at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, Israel.

The New Jersey Governor has spent most of this week in Israel on what he's dubbed a "Jersey to Jerusalem Trade Mission," aiming to strengthen economic ties and foster good will between the Garden State and the Holy Land.

The trip should foster more fawning from the GOP, too. It looks really good for a Republican presidential hopeful to get all buddy-buddy with Bibi Netanyahu, and the earlier the better. It's also no coincidence that Christie's using his first trip abroad as governor to visit the country that Barack Obama hasn't visited once during his first term as president. 

He'll come back to Jersey with foreign policy and friend-to-Israel cred, basic criteria for conservative appeal in this day and age. L'chayim.

  • Verdict: +2

Ultimately, this was a great PR week for both governors: the Democrat got to announce a slew of new spending on infrastructure, and the Republican got photo-ops galore with Israeli leaders. It's as if Cuomo and Christie retreated to their respective political corners for a moment, attempting to re-energize their bases with some ideologically pure initiatives after a long season of budget negotiations and compromises.

But Cuomo's got the edge here for two reasons. First, it's hard to find similar infrastructure investments elsewhere in the United States; it's not hard to find another Republican governor making the pilgrimage to Israel. Indiana Governor and potential 2016 candidate Mitch Daniels is making the same trip at the same time.

Second, the relative importance of Israel as a campaign issue four years from now is harder to gauge than how popular public works projects will be with Democrats.

More to the point, let's not forget that, in the fall of 2010, Chris Christie killed the ARC Tunnel, which would have doubled commuter rail capacity between New York City and New Jersey, and was the largest infrastructure project in the United States at the time. How's that for contrast?

→Final Score: Cuomo 4 — Christie 2


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Comments [2]

Patrick Cox

1. In Jersey, a report was released that verified Christie's plan for higher education "is relatively short and without substantial detail." To overcome this, the report recommends "It is important that those responsible for managing the transition to a New Rowan University spend as little time as possible explaining how and why the protests have missed the point." The "plan" is shut a campus of Rutgers University and transfer all its assets and none of its debt to an unknown teaching school called Rowan. This report was commission at tax payers expense from a think tank called The Learning Alliance for Higher Education at the University of Pennsylvania--a neighbor university that has much to gain from the proposed dismantling of the nearby campus of Rutgers.

In short the report confirms that the "plan" has no details and its suggestion for proponents is to do everything possible to hide this fact, to deceive the tax payers who paid for this advice, and to force the "plan" through by executive order. The plan has been met with fierce opposition, public inquiry from Sen. Lautenberg, and now an investigation for the Dept. of Ed. All of these have been ignored and brushed aside by Christie.

It's a cliche to say politicians lie, but we now have an actual written to plan to lie--no suspicions, but a blue print for deception paid for with tax dollars. And Christie has endorsed and is acting on that plan.

2. The PR has been horrific for him, as it should be. A new poll out this week say the proposal has 19% approval in NJ while Christie continues to insist "it will happen." Opposition is statewide and spreads across political parties because it will costs hundreds of millions of tax dollars, and be bad for higher ed (both for Rutgers and Rowan) and bad for NJ.

That needs to be a Christie -2 at least!

Apr. 07 2012 07:23 AM
Frank from Brooklyn

This is a pretty ridiculous piece of reporting, although it's not really reporting, so much as cheer-leading. To compare Cuomo's infrastructure development to the New Deal is laughable, and anyone with a basic understanding of US history, or the ability to critically analyze politics, would never make such a comparison. Instead, this piece comes off as the kind of bubble gum reporting I might expect to find on CNN's website, as it's all style, and no substance.

And you seem to know better, recognizing that Cuomo's investment comes on the heels of his evisceration of the public sector. So, that pension tier which essentially permanently drops the wages of all future public sector employees is somehow made better by infrastructure investment? Your analogy between missing an anniversary (pension) and buying flowers (infrastructure) is absurd. What actually happened is that you beat your wife and then bought her flowers. There's nothing accidental at all about Cuomo's plans, but focusing on the flowers legitimates his blatant attacks on the people who live and work in this state.

Apr. 06 2012 04:35 PM

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