MIDTOWN MANHATTAN — When most candidates win an election, let alone by a landslide, they greet supporters and make a victory speech. Governor Andrew Cuomo, however, did the exact opposite after his landslide win. It was the latest in a string of unexpected snubs of widespread attention in the last days of his primary campaign, as accusations of dirty politics hung over him.
The victory party, which was officially organized by the New York Democratic Committee, was at a decidedly small venue. The Ainsworth, a restaurant on East 33rd Street, between Madison and Park Avenues, is often booked for office parties.
Campaign victory parties, on the other hand, usually feature a stage or dais, from which a major candidate can address hundreds of supporters and media members. Large venues typically provide that sort of forum. The choice of the Midtown sports bar and corporate event space was a clue that the governor was going to stay out of the spotlight.
The first of the clues were provided on Wednesday. Even though it was the eve of the primary election, Cuomo's campaign did not release a public schedule for him to media outlets. The governor did attend some events during the day, but at most of them, no members of the press were allowed, and at the one event open to news media, no questions were allowed.
On Thursday, after casting his vote near his home in Mount Kisco, Cuomo finally gave some explanation for his low profile on the eve of the election.
"We had done strategies that I didn't want you to know," the governor said to more than a dozen reporters outside of his local polling place, "because you might tell other people," he added.
Veteran political consultant Hank Sheinkopf told PIX11 News that the governor's media dodge as he was poised to take his second re-election was "good issues management, quite frankly."
Sheinkopf said that the governor's strategy was simple. "There's a problem," he said. "Don't get into the problem, avoid the problem."
Among the problems Cuomo was avoiding were delays in the opening of the new Tappan Zee Bridge that the governor had named after his father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, as well as questionable payouts related to the bridge's construction.
Another late campaign controversy was a flier that had been sent to Orthodox Jewish voters that falsely claimed that Cuomo's opponent, Cynthia Nixon, is anti-Semitic.
On Thursday morning, after voting for himself, Cuomo responded to the flier having been sent out. He insists that he had nothing to do with the mailing, and on Thursday, he told reporters, "I never said a negative word about my opponent, and the tone of that mailer was wrong."
Having responded on Thursday morning to the controversies around him, Cuomo chose to spend Thursday night at home with his daughters, according to a campaign source. The campaign gave no official reason for the decision.
With 98 percent of precincts reporting, Cuomo won re-election to his third term with 65 percent of the vote. Nixon had 35 percent.
Cuomo will face Republican Marc Molinaro in the general election on Nov. 6.