Looking to 2020’s potential main event

During his Monday visit upstate, President Donald Trump said Gov. Andrew Cuomo once told him he wouldn’t run against him.

President Donald Trump signs the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act at Fort Drum, New York, on Monday. Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images / BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI

Even President Donald Trump wanted a piece of the action: speculating whether Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to run for higher office.

During his Monday visit upstate, Trump said Cuomo once told him he wouldn’t run against him. A Cuomo spokesman on Tuesday threw cold water on the idea that such a conversation happened, but Queens natives Cuomo and Trump have interacted in the past; Trump has said their mothers used the same beauty salons in Queens. The two grew up in New York political circles, and Cuomo paid a visit to Trump Tower days before Trump’s inauguration.


But back to the main event: Is Cuomo running for president? People who think he is might point to his creation of a federal political action committee, often the first refuge of a politician looking to be nationally relevant. But with such a PAC, he has the cover of saying it will be used for locally relevant issues, donating to New York congressional and state Senate candidates for the Democrats’ blue wave push this year, according to his campaign.

Another way to pull back the curtain is to look at the campaign’s Facebook ads. A review of 100-plus Cuomo ads from July and August shows that they were seen only in New York. A handful of the ads, which are saved in Facebook’s political ad archive, show less than 1 percent of impressions in other states, which does not appear to indicate national targeting. Instead, Cuomo is hammering Facebook users in the state with his achievements regarding gun control laws and other reasons why “New York leads.”

Compare that with recent Facebook ads from presumed 2020 contenders Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. All of those U.S. senators have recent ads that show significant percentages of views in non-home states — particularly California, a Democratic fundraising haven.

Cuomo has a well-publicized primary challenge next month and a gubernatorial re-election in November, so it makes sense he’d focus on New York. Of course, that doesn’t mean we won’t see Cuomo in Iowa soon.

Mark Chiusano, an editorial writer for amNewYork, writes the column amExpress. Sign up at

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