Andrew Cuomo may have a place in Washington, but it is not the Oval Office

By Richard Lee

Andrew Cuomo’s leadership throughout the coronavirus crisis has earned the New York governor a place in the national spotlight.

At one time, #PresidentCuomo was trending on Twitter. He has been mentioned as a possible running mate  — and even a replacement  — for Joe Biden on the national ticket. And now, to paraphrase Dr. Hook, his face is on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.

The truth is there is a job for Cuomo in Washington, but it is not the job of president or vice president. Instead, Cuomo is an ideal fit for chief of staff.

Chiefs of staffs are the people who make the trains run. They get things done. They never get to be the good cops. They are the ones who tell powerful people no.

Like most of today’s political leaders, Cuomo is a polarizing figure. He spars regularly with the president. Within the state he governs, his popularity varies widely. In 2018, he was re-elected to a third term as governor largely on the strength of Democratic voters in the highly populated New York City region. Outside of the city, Long Island, and Rockland and Westchester counties, he lost almost all other counties in the upstate, central and western parts of the state.

But even Cuomo’s fiercest critics tip their caps to his leadership skills and his ability to get controversial legislation passed.

“All of those attributes that at times grate at people — even like me who want to poke him sometimes — frankly are useful in an emergency,” Marc Molinaro, Cuomo’s 2018 Republican opponent in the governor’s race, told the Washington Post.

The winner of November’s presidential election will face one of the greatest challenges to confront any U.S. president. If Joe Biden is the nation’s next president, he will need to assemble a talented and experienced team to lead the nation to recovery after the coronavirus pandemic. Finding men and women with right skill sets will be a tough task, but he can make that task easier by starting with Andrew Cuomo as his chief of staff.

Richard Lee is executive director of the Jandoli Institute and an associate professor in the Jandoli School of Communication at St. Bonaventure University.

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