Yes, Andrew Cuomo Can Be Nominated for President in 2020.

New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo surrounded by his father and former NYS Governor Mario M. Cuomo, and his mother, Matilda R. Cuomo.

James Larocca, a former colleague from the first Administration of Governor Mario M. Cuomo of New York in the mid-1980’s, writing in the Long Island newspaper, Newsday (March 26, 2020), questioned whether the Democratic National Committee could nominate Andrew Cuomo for President this year.

Larocca, a former State Transportation Commission, candidate for Governor himself, and current Village Trustee in the Suffolk County village of Sag Harbor, made a straightforward case for Cuomo, contrasting the New York governor’s leadership against the utter failure of Donald Trump, and the lack of command of the crisis coming from either Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders:

“Contrast this with Cuomo’s management of the coronavirus emergency in New York. He has been clear-headed and clear-voiced, and that has been comforting. As a result, New Yorkers and their families understand what they must do to survive. And the governor is out there managing the state’s response, relentlessly foraging for critical medical supplies and equipment, and pushing the Trump administration and the federal bureaucracy to make better decisions.

Can the Democratic Party nominate a candidate in its convention other than one who has come through the primary process? No one apparently knows for sure. But if a nominee is not chosen on a first ballot at the convention, primary-chosen delegates can be released and the convention can open up to other candidates.”

The answer to the procedural question raised by Jim Larocca is a resounding, YES!

If Democrats want to win the war vs. the continuing Corona Virus both immediately and in the long-term, we should be pushing for the first deadlocked — or contested — Democratic National Convention since 1952. While Joe Biden has a sizeable lead in elected delegates as of today, with the majority of delegates yet to be decided in a peculiar primary year, nothing is a foregone conclusion. Biden has a 300+ delegate lead over Sanders — 1,215 over 910 — but is still some 776 delegates short of clinching the nomination.

Nate Silver’s 538 is projecting that if all of the remaining primaries are held between now and early June — a big “IF” — considering the accelerating pace of the Corona Virus around the nation and ESPECIALLY in New York, where the Democratic Presidential Primary was scheduled for April 28, 2020 — Biden is on track to win more than the 1,991 Delegates needed for nomination. But those political calculations may become moot, if the apocalyptic progress of the pandemic ends the primary season NOW, and puts the decision in the hands of the Democratic National Committee.

There is no historical precedent for what we find ourselves experiencing at this very moment. It may come down to an appeal by Democratic leaders, including former President Obama, to either Joe Biden, to release his delegates in favor of Andrew Cuomo, or to the 766 Super Delegates (Members of Congress, Governors) to back Biden, and put him over the top. It’s hard to see Democratic public officials — up for re-election — flocking to support Biden — who only appeared from his basement once via television during the COVID-19 crisis — when they’ve seen what a powerful difference a compelling candidate like Cuomo can make.

Alternatively, DNC leadership could declare the primary process complete, and immediately plan for an electronic or by-mail first ballot vote in July, allowing States which have not yet decided, to hold their primaries by mail-vote, or simply permit the State Party organizations to select who will represent their State at an in-person, or virtual, national convention. Some of these changes may require emergency State legislation.

The only example Democrats can look back to for a small measure of instruction is the 1952 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, when State Party organization’s did choose their national delegates. That was the last time any major party convention went past the first ballot to select a nominee. One dramatic change between that Convention 68 years ago, and today, has made a contested convention more likely. In 2018, Democrats, for the first time in modern history, passed a rule change preventing 766 so-called “super-delegates,” — DNC Members, Members of Congress, Senators and Governors, and “distinguished party members like ex-Presidents or Vice-Presidents — from casting their votes on the first ballot. This change alone could guarantee that no candidate will have enough delegates to win the Democratic Nomination on the first ballot.

Despite having Harry Truman as an incumbent President, Democrats entered the 1952 election cycle deeply divided with Truman supported by only 36% of Democrats nationwide, according to a Gallup Poll. In the first-in-the-nation New Hampshire Democratic Primary in February, 1952, Truman was toppled by semi-progressive Tennessee Senator Estes Kefauver, who was then conducting televised Senate investigations into organized crime, and surfing a wave of public support.

Just as Lyndon B. Johnson would do 16 years later, Truman interpreted his weak New Hampshire primary showing as a message to not seek re-election. With Truman out, Kefauver became the front-runner for the Democratic Presidential nomination, and he was locked in a tough battle with Senator Richard Russell of Georgia, a staunch segregationist, and the liberal Averell Harriman of New York, who served as President Truman’s Secretary of Commerce, and later became Governor of New York. No one arrived at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago that year with anywhere near the 616 delegates needed to win the nomination.

The Convention opened with a welcoming speech by the Governor of Illinois, Adlai E. Stevenson II, whose grandfather by the same name served as Vice President under President Grover Cleveland. Young Adlai’s speech was so well received, it began a boomlet for him to seek the nomination — something he had steadfastly resisted until that moment. Truman, who fought hard to integrate the Armed Services forcing segregationists like Strom Thurmond into their own Dixiecrat Party in 1948, was adamantly opposed to having an anti-integrationist like Russell as the Party’s standard bearer. President Truman threw his backing behind Stevenson, persuading Averell Harriman to pledge his 121 delegates to the Illinois Governor after the second ballot. With strong support from Harriman and Truman, Stevenson stormed past the two Southern Senators on the Convention’s third ballot, tallying 617 votes to the combined total of 540 for Kefauver and Russell.

While the political circumstances in 2020 are far different than those in 1952, the mechanics could work in a similar fashion, if Democratic party officials determine that because of the pandemic-shortened primary season, they need to have open balloting to pick the party’s Presidential candidate.

If Biden goes into the first ballot with his 1,215 committed delegates, Sanders with his 915, and Bloomberg, Warren, Buttigieg and Klobuchar with their approximate total of 130 delegates, that would set up a second ballot showdown — when not only are all committed delegates free to vote their conscience, but the 766 Super Delegates — elected officials — are unleashed to vote for the candidate of their choice.

With some 1,900+ delegates needed for a first ballot victory, it’s possible that no single candidate will have enough to win. Enter Andrew Cuomo.

A fresh, new Democratic ticket — a result of a consensus, led, most likely by Nancy Pelosi who would hold sway over some 230 Congressional Democrats with an acute interest in who will head the Democratic ticket, could play a powerful role in deciding who will head the ticket that could determine control of Congress. Based upon his outstanding leadership in dealing with the COVID-19 crisis in New York, it’s easy to foresee someone — especially from the New York State delegation — putting Andrew Cuomo’s name in nomination.

Conceivably, it could take a second, third or even fourth ballot for one candidate to aggregate enough support to win the nomination, the way Adlai Stevenson did after three ballots in 1952, but it’s highly likely that if Cuomo were drafted to be nominated, after the first ballot, he would win the Democratic Nomination by acclamation.

Cuomo has clearly demonstrated that even from his position of Governor of New York, history has its eyes on him to become the wartime president this pandemic-pummeled nation is demanding.

Not even the Democratic Party could resist that call.

I’m Voting for Joe Biden, Democrat.

I’m voting for Joe Biden in the March 3, California Super Tuesday primary.

I’ve held onto my ballot until the last possible moment, because — despite working hard knocking on doors and making phone calls for Mike Bloomberg, as the candidate I thought had the best chance of beating Donald Trump, all that has changed — especially in California.

After a full-year of contributing to and supporting Elizabeth Warren, whom I met a decade ago and agree with on most issues, the chaotic Iowa Caucus convinced me that it was time to take some drastic action. The Democratic Party apparatus and its ineffectual leader Tom Perez, failed miserably, shocking party activists across the country, about how thoroughly unprepared we were as national Democrats to take on the Trump juggernaut. Iowa became a flashing red light: something dramatic had to be done and fast, if we were going to save the country from the lawless, soulless Trump and his fellow White Supremacists. With Mike Bloomberg offering to finance and build a shadow infrastructure for the Democratic Party to support candidates for the Senate, House and Presidency, the choice to me was compelling. Amateur hour was over. It was time for a well-financed candidate with pockets deeper than the GOP’s to take on Trump.

Warren’s already-weakened candidacy began to wobble even more after floundering finishes in Iowa, and New Hampshire, two states she was once expected to win. I was willing to abandon the candidate of my heart to support a much more pragmatic person like Bloomberg, for whom I’d crossed party lines to vote for as NYC Mayor 15 years ago. Bloomberg did a superb job rebuilding NYC after 9/11, and had the vast resources to resuscitate a comatose Democratic social media presence, and spend billions of dollars to dump Trump and go-toe-to-toe with the GOP in every Senatorial and House race in the nation.

But, in a mere two weeks, Bloomberg’s campaign flopped, despite a terrific, well-run operation in our local town of Napa, California. His overly centralized campaign brain-trust, made a fatal mistake at the outset by agreeing to have Bloomberg appear in the Nevada Democratic Presidential Debate, after the dumb DNC had denied Cory Booker — a superb candidate — a place on the debate stage. Bloomberg’s top staff had the perfect reason to refuse any debates until after Super Tuesday: If the DNC wouldn’t change the rules for Cory Booker, Bloomberg’s staff should have argued that they did not want Tom Perez to change the rules for Mike. Bloomberg could have entered the Presidential race on the high road, demanding fairness for the last standing candidate of color to remain on the debate stage. In fact, because he committed to use his billions to build the Party, Bloomberg could have insisted that Booker be included in the next debate. Booker wasn’t, and Bloomberg was, a tone-deaf and tactically terrible action which backfired.

Instead, the Bloomberg team, not only made the ill-informed decision to throw Mike Bloomberg into the Debate — after San Francisco’s former Mayor and California’s former House Speaker Willie Brown had advised them what a bad political move that would be — but then, Bloomberg top-staffer Howard Wolfson admitted to the New York Times that he had failed to properly prepare Bloomberg for his first high-stakes debate in 11 years. Not only had the Bloomberg boys (and they were all men) bungled the decision about having Mike participate in the debate, but they confessed that they hadn’t thoroughly prepared him for what to expect. Why that team wasn’t fired the following day for such a consequential blunder….I’m still shaking my head.

Despite the deep damage that was done to Bloomberg’s on-the-ground campaign — with dozens of volunteers quitting after his Nevada debate debacle — I soldiered on, making hundreds of calls and knocking on dozens of doors. I believed that a national Democratic ticket headed by Sanders would hand Trump re-election, rob us of our best chance in a generation to take back the US Senate, and cost us the Supreme Court for the rest of my lifetime.

The courageous Democratic Senator from Alabama, Doug Jones, the tough prosecutor of the KKK members who murdered the four little Black girls in a Birmingham Church in 1963, would be in real danger of holding onto his Senate seat this year, if he had to defend Bernie’s bizarre political history, and his $60 trillion spending plan. Despite the delusions of the Sandernistas, there’s no way on Alabama’s Camelia-blooming-earth that Bernie helps Doug Jones win re-election. And, a Sanders-led ticket would have a reverse-coattail effect for Mark Kelly in Arizona, Cal Cunningham in North Carolina, Amy McGrath in Kentucky, Sara Gideon in Maine, Theresa Greenfield in Iowa, M.J. Hegar in Texas, Barbar Bollier in Kansas, or Jaime Harrison in South Carolina — all locked in tight US Senate races that could flip the Senate.

Clarity came in the form of James Clyburn, the long-time South Carolina Congressman, who answered the call of his ancestors to save the nation. Revered across his state, Clyburn endorsed Joe Biden and in Biden’s own words, “carried me home on his shoulders,” as well as the entire National Democratic Party. Biden’s blow-out victory among a highly diverse electorate — and with turnout that nearly matched the Obama record of 2008 — brought his own campaign back to life, and lighted up the path to victory for the Democrats in November.

Equally important was the turnout from Joe Cunningham’s Congressional District in Charleston, SC, — heavily for Biden — underscoring a strong desire for someone at the head of the ticket to preserve Democratic Members of Congress in swing districts. Biden’s smart shout-out to Jaime Harrison, the determined Democrat locked in a dead-heat with Lindsey Graham in the South Carolina Senate race, was also extraordinarily important.

As we watched the historic results coming in from South Carolina, my wife Carol and I, discussed what we would do with our Super Tuesday ballots. What would have the greatest effect of reducing Bernie Sanders’ California Delegate total, help elect the eventual Democratic nominee and defeat Trump and the Republicans? Carol was fluctuating between Warren and Klobuchar, but their poor performances in South Carolina had knocked them out of consideration. The fundamental question we faced was this: who, other than Sanders, would have the best chance of crossing the 15% threshold in California to win some delegates of their own? Who could we support?

I checked several California-based polls which reinforced what I learned while working on the Bloomberg campaign: Bloomberg was topping out in California at 12%, with both Biden and Warren having the best chance to slow a Sanders’ stampede. Neither one of us could see Warren — who hurt herself badly in the South Carolina debate — going all the way to the White House. I informed the local Bloomberg campaign officials that I could not, in good conscience, ask Democrats to vote for Mike Bloomberg any longer, when I believed, after South Carolina, my vote would have more value for Biden, who could cut significantly into Sanders’ delegate haul, with every point over 15% he received on Super Tuesday. If Warren did that too — even better.

And, since Biden needs money, staff and campaign infrastructure as Rep. Clyburn bluntly told him, the best way Bloomberg could now defeat Donald Trump — his initial rationale for entering the Presidential race — would be to endorse Biden after Super Tuesday, and commit money and staff to Biden and the National Democratic Party to crush Trump and the GOP. It’s why I backed Bloomberg in the first place, and it is, in my judgement, the best way to invest his billions to save the country.

So, I’m voting for Joe Biden on Super Tuesday, and I urge Mike Bloomberg to make the next day, Super Wednesday, by backing Biden as well.