Maybe you’ve listened to the beginning of a Desus and Mero podcast, where the Bronx natives and TV personalities braggadociously list name after name of aliases, puns playing off the names of real people.
At about the fourth minute of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s general election kickoff on Tuesday you might have thought you’d found yourself in a bizarro version of Bodega Boys. New York State Democratic Committee chair Byron Brown, in a celebratory mood, was reading the list of politicians who had joined Cuomo in the midtown Sheraton. “Sit back and relax because it’s a long list,” he said.
He wasn’t kidding.
There were the D.C. powerbrokers, Reps. Jerry Nadler, Hakeem Jeffries, Joe Crowley (soon to be out of office), and assorted other members of Congress. There was City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, and city Comptroller Scott Stringer. State Attorney General candidate Tish James and current Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul were there, fresh off their Democratic primary wins. In the crowded third-floor room, there were also borough presidents and myriad state lawmakers and a whole host of candidates for state and federal office, many of them clustered together by rank or geographic proximity through assigned seating. There were union leaders. There were City Council members. There was Mayor Bill de Blasio.
By the fifth or so minute of the reading of all their names you got the feeling that, like in the Desus and Mero podcasts, the listing of the names was sort of the point. For Desus and Mero, it’s entertainment. For Cuomo and the state Democratic party, it’s unity.
Dozens of elected officials and candidates put aside their differences and joined Cuomo Tuesday afternoon. Staten Island congressional hopeful Max Rose sat not far away from de Blasio, whom Rose slams in an ad for mistreating the forgotten borough. De Blasio himself made an unannounced appearance in support of Cuomo, saying that though “from time to time” he and Cuomo had disagreed — they have taken potshots at each other in the media for years — they also “talk all the time.” Cuomo returned the favor and called de Blasio the “great” mayor of NYC. The two sat thigh to thigh in the room’s front row.
It was all a little different from the internecine primary that just wrapped up Thursday. De Blasio declined to endorse in statewide races though his wife, Chirlane McCray, came out for Zephyr Teachout, the anti-Cuomo candidate for attorney general. A surge in voter turnout led to the demise of six of eight Independent Democratic Conference members, renegade Democrats in the State Senate who had empowered Republicans. They were defeated by progressive challengers.
Cuomo came out decisively on top in his fight against actress and activist Cynthia Nixon, who also ran at Cuomo from the left. After his win, Cuomo took a gleeful victory lap at a Friday news conference, downplaying progressive wins during state primaries and the congressional ones in June, when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez beat Crowley in the Bronx.
By Tuesday, there was a different takeaway. Ocasio-Cortez was not mentioned from the stage. Unification was the word of the hour. “We’re the big-tent party,” Cuomo said. All was forgiven and they were on to a new challenge: President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress.
By now, Cuomo has really refined his anti-Trump stump speech, and it flowed out in rare form Tuesday. Trump is “our tough-guy president,” Cuomo said with a little Bronx podcast swagger. “The boy is a great salesman.” He compared Trump’s scamming abilities to those of Bernie Madoff. Part of the Republican tax bill was “despicable.” White supremacists in Charlottesville “didn’t even bother to wear their hoods.”
The long list of politicians loved it, and for the moment, everyone was on the same page.