If Cuomo launches comeback for NY governor, poll suggests competitive primary with Hochul

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As he mulls launching a new bid to try and regain his old job as New York State governor, a fresh poll indicates that an Andrew Cuomo campaign would instantly transform an uncompetitive Democratic primary into a competitive contest.

According to a Siena College poll released on Monday, Cuomo stands at 30% support among registered Democrats, with Gov. Kathy Hochul, his handpicked successor, at 38%.

The survey, conducted March 20-March 24, indicates the two other candidates already running for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in the June 28 primary – Rep. Tom Suozzi and New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams – at 10% and 7%.

Then-New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference, Tuesday, May 11, 2021, in New York. 
(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Without Cuomo in the race, the poll indicates Hochul at 52% support, holding a commanding 40-point lead, with Williams at 12% and Suozzi at 11%.

Hochul, who served as Cuomo’s lieutenant governor, in August was sworn in as New York’s first female governor. She succeeded the three-term Cuomo, who resigned in disgrace amid multiple scandals.

But Cuomo in recent weeks has been speaking with supporters about launching a comeback campaign for governor.

In February, Cuomo rolled out a new political ad suggesting he was the victim of political attacks regarding the multiple sexual misconduct allegations that helped drive him from office. A few weeks later he rolled out a second ad touting his achievements as governor. He’s also made a pair of public appearances at New York City churches, using the second one to criticize Hochul and lawmakers in the New York State Legislature.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul speaks during the New York State Democratic Convention in New York, Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022. 
(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

But the clock’s ticking for Cuomo – he has a week and a half left to file if he wants to place his name on the Democratic primary ballot. Cuomo would also need to turn in the required 15,000 petition signatures – including at least 100 signatures each from half of the state’s congressional districts – to get on the ballot.

The Siena College poll is the second in recent weeks to suggest that Cuomo would trail Hochul by single digits. But it also contains some warning signs for the former governor. Only a third of registered Democrats surveyed wanted Cuomo to run in the primary, only 32% of all registered voters had a favorable opinion of him, and only 32% thought he didn’t sexually harass multiple women.

“Hochul has 50-point net positive favorability rating among Democrats, compared to Cuomo’s eight-point net positive rating. More than half of Democrats don’t want Cuomo to run for governor this year and only one-third say he should run in the primary,” Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg said. “Despite all that, Cuomo would be very much in the game – if he decides to put himself in the game.”

This photo from Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015, shows New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul during a cabinet meeting at the Capitol in Albany, New York. 
(AP Photo/Mike Groll, File)

“The two are tied in New York City, likely home to a majority of Democratic primary voters. Hochul leads by eight points in the downstate suburbs and 25 points upstate. Cuomo has a two-to-one lead with Black Democrats and Hochul has a comparable lead among white Democrats, while Latinos are closely divided,” Greenberg said. “Interestingly, while Hochul leads among men by 15 points, she only leads with women by four points.”

Cuomo has another option if he decides to bid for governor again. He could skip the primary and run as an independent in November’s general election. To do that, Cuomo would need to gather 45,000 signatures – with at least 500 from each of half of the state’s congressional districts, by the end of May.

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