Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s bumpy win in the Democratic primary is energizing his general election opponents, who said Wednesday that a little-known liberal challenger’s better-than-expected showing exposed big problems for the governor within his own party.
The governor traveled to Buffalo for a victory celebration with running mate Kathy Hochul as his campaign pivots to the general election. Cuomo beat law professor Zephyr Teachout, 62 percent to 34 percent, in Tuesday’s primary, a weaker-than-expected performance for a well-known incumbent facing a first-time candidate with few campaign resources.
“I think you saw a repudiation [of Cuomo] by his own party last night,” Republican candidate Rob Astorino, the Westchester County executive, said on Wednesday. “There is no passion whatsoever for Andrew Cuomo.”
Cuomo is well-positioned to win re-election. He remains ahead of Astorino in fundraising, and polls give him a 2-to-1 lead. While Cuomo’s centrism may have caused him problems with primary voters, it’s more likely to appeal to more moderate general election voters.
While the primary indicates that Cuomo has some weaknesses to repair with his base, many of same Democrats who supported Teachout in the primary could end up casting a vote for Cuomo, albeit reluctantly.
“The question becomes, where do these dissatisfied Democrats go in November? Astorino? Not likely,” said Baruch College political science professor Doug Muzzio. “Do they stay home? Do they go to [the Green Party’s Howie] Hawkins?”
Turnout was fewer than 10 percent, low even for a gubernatorial primary.