In 2010, the New York Times offered a ringing endorsement of Democrat Andrew Cuomo for governor, citing in particular his campaign promise to clean up corruption in the state's capital and reform campaign finance rules.
"Mr. Cuomo acknowledges that his foremost task is restoring trust and transparency to Albany, and the sections on ethics reform are the most impressive in his briefing books," the editorial board wrote.
But times have changed. In a major snub, the Times editorial board said Tuesday that it will not endorse Cuomo, now governor, for re-election in the state's Democratic primary in two weeks, largely because he failed to act on the promises that enchanted the paper nearly four years ago.
"The state government remains as subservient to big money as ever, and Mr. Cuomo resisted and even shut down opportunities to fix it," the editorial board wrote Tuesday. "Because he broke his most important promise, we have decided not to make an endorsement for the Democratic primary on Sept. 9."
Looming over the Times' non-endorsement is the controversy earlier this year over the Moreland Commission, an independent panel set up to investigate corruption that Cuomo's administration blocked when it looked too closely into Cuomo's allies. The New York Times published the seminal story on Cuomo's interference with the commission.
Still, the Times declined to endorse Zephyr Teachout, the Fordham Law School professor challenging Cuomo in the primary, in spite of praise for many of Teachout's proposals.
"Why endorse no candidate in a major state primary? Here’s how we see it: Realistically, Governor Cuomo is likely to win the primary, thanks to vastly greater resources and name recognition. And he’ll probably win a second term in November against a conservative Republican opponent," the editorial board wrote. "In part, that’s because issues like campaign finance rarely have been a strong motivator for most voters. Nonetheless, those who want to register their disappointment with Mr. Cuomo’s record on changing the culture of Albany may well decide that the best way to do that is to vote for Ms. Teachout."
The editorial board's non-endorsement might ultimately be an empty protest, too: The Times could still endorse Cuomo in the general election, where he would face Republican Rob Astorino. Cuomo leads Astorino by a hefty margin in most polls — such a large margin that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, chairman of the Republican Governors Association, has declined to campaign for Astorino or raise money for him.