Winners and Losers

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For a political reporter, this year was the gift that just kept on giving, filled with winners and losers, and I’m not just talking about the elections!
The big winner: Andrew Cuomo. He managed to bulldoze all the opposition, beginning with Governor David Paterson (remember when it was actually conceivable that he could run for reelection?) and ending with his slaughter of Carl Paladino.
Cuomo swept into office with an apparent mandate to clean up Albany. At least that’s what he has promised. His decision not to have a big inaugural bash is both admirable and politically wise. This state has had enough parties on the taxpayers tab. He says he wants a property tax cap. He says he won’t raise taxes. He says he will balance the budget without gimmicks. He says . . . he says . . . he says . . . Okay, time for the talk to end. Cuomo now has to put up or shut up.
He was not exactly a profile in courage during the campaign, frequently ducking interviews, and giving only vague promises. But that won’t work in Albany.
The other big winner this year: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who simply does not care whom he offends. Christie’s confrontational style has made him a national figure, and a perhaps a force to be reckoned with in the Presidential sweepstakes. He has taken on the unions, the federal government and just about anyone else who has crossed him and his path. He understands that the way to be successful is to act, and “let the chips fall.”
Of course, this was a recipe for disaster for Carl Paladino, who set a new standard for ineptitude by a candidate. Ironically, Republicans thought he would be the savior, casting aside Rick Lazio to ensure a more “colorful” candidacy. They got it, all right. Paladino nearly started a fist fight with New York Post State Editor Fred Dicker, and offended the entire gay community by reading what somebody handed to him. He actually had a chance to make a race of it, but by October he pretty much talked himself out of the picture.
The other big loser: David Paterson. The Governor started off so well when he took over for Elliot Spitzer, but quickly went downhill from there. This year, he did avoid prosecution in the domestic violence case involving his aide, but that hardly is something to be proud of. His efforts to corral the legislature were not taken seriously, and critics said he often did not take his job seriously either. We political reporters will miss his sense of humor.
On the national front, Democrats took a drubbing, or a “shellacking” as the President put it. Nancy Pelosi got the hook. Charles Rangel got censure. Harry Reid barely survived. And the House went Republican.
The next question: can the President hold on. The race for the White House begins shortly. Stay tuned, and see you in 2011.