The Campaign Spot

If He Wants to Be Governor, Shouldn’t Andrew Cuomo Step Down as AG?

Why is New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo investigating his onetime primary rival, and the man who currently occupies the job he wants, David Paterson? Of course, Cuomo isn’t officially a gubernatorial canddiate; Cuomo’s ambition to be governor is an open secret, even though the official filing will come some time in the future.

Rick Lazio is running for governor of New York, and his chances of winning are small. But he’s raising a very legitimate point about his likely rival.

“It seems to me absurd, honestly, that Andrew Cuomo, as a political aspirant to the governor’s mansion not appoint somebody who is beyond reproach and independent and unbiased on this to conduct this investigation,” Lazio said.

“I think this has got to be done by somebody other than Andrew Cuomo. The points I raise is, if he was behind, or if his agents were behind, pushing these stories around that were discrediting Paterson for the last few weeks, and particularly these last couple weeks, then it seems to me that he’s disqualified from actually being the kind of investigator that both Paterson and the state needs.

In Virginia, when Bob McDonnell’s gubernatorial campaign kicked into high gear, he resigned as state attorney general. In New Hampshire, when attorney general Kelly Ayotte decided she wanted to run for Senate, she departed that job, too. But some stay in the job; among them, Pennsylvania’s Tom Corbett, who aspires to the governorship, and Jerry Brown made his gubernatorial bid official in California today.

But once a case comes along that involves the immediate predecessor — with big political repercussions – the case ought to be handed off to someone who doesn’t have a vested interest in the outcome.