Wall Street Journal: Harsh Critique of Cuomo

27 Sep

By JACOB GERSHMAN

The head of a black-owned weekly newspaper based in Harlem said Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo has “proved nothing” to African-American voters and takes their support for granted.

The publisher and editor-in-chief of the Amsterdam News, Elinor Tatum, vented her frustration with state’s the attorney general in a strongly worded open letter in the newspaper published on Thursday.

“You have remained silent. You have met with no one. And I mean no one. You have not spoken to us or any other media outlets, for that matter,” Ms. Tatum wrote. “You seem to think that you are the golden child who cannot be touched, but I am afraid, my friend, you may be sorely mistaken.”

She added: “You have proved nothing to us. You have showed us nothing that makes us want to stand strongly behind you. We feel as though all too often, you have taken us for granted and you have less than 40 days to turn this ship around.”

A spokesman for Mr. Cuomo did not respond to requests for comment.

Since returning to the political stage four years ago, Mr. Cuomo has sought to mend his relationship with black leaders, as memories of his polarizing gubernatorial primary campaign against former state Comptroller Carl McCall in 2002 have receded.

Still, such harsh criticism aired by a venerable newspaper that holds influence within the city’s black community—coming at a moment when his race for governor against Carl Paladino appears to be tightening—was a worrying development for Mr. Cuomo’s campaign. In a close election, the turnout of black voters could become a decisive factor.

Ms. Tatum, in an interview on Friday, said “several” black elected officials have called to thank her for writing the piece. She declined to name them.

Mr. McCall, the first African-American elected to a statewide office in New York, defended Mr. Cuomo in an interview Friday.

“I think he’s being much more aggressive. I know I’ve had discussions with him,” Mr. McCall said.

Mr. Cuomo has notched endorsements from several prominent black officials, including Mr. McCall and former city Comptroller Bill Thompson, who joined his campaign this week as a co-chairman.

The Democratic candidate has also been soliciting advice from black leaders about ideas for economic programs geared toward New York’s minority populations.

Ms. Tatum said the idea of electing Mr. Paladino, the Republican nominee who has come under fire for having forwarded a string of racist e-mails to friends and business associates, “sickens” her.

But she questioned whether the possibility of a Paladino victory alone is “enough to get people to come out and vote.”

Said Ms. Tatum: “Right now, there are a lot of compelling reasons not to vote for anybody. If the African-American community stays home, Cuomo is in big trouble.”

Write to Jacob Gershman at jacob.gershman@wsj.com

Original Wall Street Journal post: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703499604575512451835840956.html?mod=rss_newyork_main

Original AmNews post: http://politicsnoir.com/2010/09/23/andy-are-you-gonna-to-run-a-campaign/

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