Who Had the Better Week—Cuomo or Christie?

Friday, June 08, 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.

Andrew Cuomo

Casino bust

Governor Cuomo unveiled an ambitious plan for a new convention center at Aqueduct race track during his State of the State in January, and this week he was forced to kill it.

Talks between the Cuomo administration and Genting, an Asian gaming conglomerate interested in developing a combination casino and convention center, apparently failed, but not before a group connected to Cuomo accepted more than $2 million from the company and other gambling interests in December.

That such a large contribution came about a month before Cuomo announced the new convention center, as well as a push for expanded gaming in the state, was not lost on Occupy Wall Street protesters, who showed up in Albany earlier this week to present Governor Cuomo with a fake $2 million check.

The blow to Cuomo is two-fold: not only is the Aqueduct plan dead; Cuomo will face even more scrutiny in any future attempts to build casinos and convention centers, and some elements within his party don't look kindly on large political donations from private interests.

  • Verdict: -2

Lowering marijuana arrests

Accepting contributions from gambling conglomerates may not sit well with Cuomo's more liberal constituents, but he may have made up some ground this week by announcing a push to lower marijuana arrests in the state.

The move comes as WNYC reporter Ailsa Chang's ongoing investigation into NYPD "stop-and-frisk" practices showed police may have been making improper marijuana arrests as a result of stop-and-frisk.

Speaking in Albany on Monday, Cuomo cited "blatent inconsistency" in the law and its enforcement, and proposed decriminalizing the possession of marijuana in public view. Under the proposed change, the penalty would be something like a traffic ticket, not an arrest.

Decriminalizing marijuana has been something mostly supported by Democrats in recent years (Republicans in the State Senate say the change won't pass). And certainly, any measure that chips away at perceived law enforcement overreach will sit well with the same crowd that might be souring on Cuomo for taking money from gambling interests. After all, Occupy protesters are all too familiar with the ways of the NYPD.

  • Verdict: +1

Chris Christie

Win for Walker, Win for Christie

Noting their similar records as governor — taking on public employee unions, killing federal rail projects — WNYC's Bob Hennelly reports:

A year before Scott Walker emerged in Wisconsin, Chris Christie rose to prominence in New Jersey, prototyping the same themes. And if Walker won big last night, so did Chris Christie, who stumped for Walker, raised funds, and regularly appeared on television for Walker – improving his own national ambitions.

Hennelly was referring to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's win earlier this week in a recall election. The recall itself rose out of opposition to policies introduced by Governor Walker last year, which included severely limiting the collective bargaining abilities of unions.

But Walker's win can be seen as voters endorsing those policies, which Hennelly notes are very similar to Christie's. It's also worth mentioning that any time a Christie-backed candidate wins an election, the Garden State guv's national stock rises.

  • Verdict: +2

    →Final Score: Cuomo -1 — Christie 2


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    Comments [1]

    Steven Norton from Alton, IL

    It is no wonder that Genting balked at a $4 billion convention center at Aqueduct, because a major convention center in Metropolitan New York City will only succeed in Manhattan. This is primarily because City Center is the location of the great majority of the metropolitan areas hotel accommodations. Conventioneers are not like the typical vacation traveler, looking for bargains. The convention attendee is receiving his regular pay to attend the meeting or trade show, and his employer is covering transportation, lodging and meals, during the stay. So this person doesn't need the bargains possibly available in the Burroughs or New Jersey. This individual is not going to take the train, bus or cab to get to his events, so if the particular show is not in Manhattan, then it is likely to be found in Las Vegas, Chicago or another major city with enough rooms in city center to handle the conference under discussion. Any of the NY City Burroughs could easily accommodate a major casino, that would rely on the resident population for support; but no community around Manhattan has anywhere near enough rooms to handle a major trade show or city wide convention.

    Put the convention center along with a resort casino in Manhattan and you will get major bidders from American companies Like Las Vegas Sands, Wynn Resorts, MGM and Caesars Entertainment. You would probably see proposals on the scale of the Venetian's in Las Vegas or Macau or Sheldon Adelson's masterpiece, Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. Steve Wynn also has a substantial balance sheet, like Sheldon's and always builds superlative projects, like the Mirage, Bellagio, Wynn and Encore in Las Vegas, or his own Macau project. The biggest problem in center city New York would be to find enough acreage to build a project worthy of the World's most exciting city.

    Jun. 09 2012 03:46 PM

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