If you’re a politician running for an office that would make New York City residents your constituents, you do a photo op riding the subway. It’s a rule that apparently doesn’t extend to Governor Andrew Cuomo, who’s not going to be caught DEAD riding the subway with you plebeians, according to a Politico New York story published Monday.
According to the site, Cuomo staffers have tried to convince him to patronize the MTA, even as just a campaign stunt, but he wasn’t having it:
It’s not like his advisers haven’t tried to persuade him to give it a try. They’ve urged Cuomo, who is running for a third term, to ride the subway on more than one occasion, according to two knowledgeable sources. The governor has demurred.
One explanation has it that the image of a “passive straphanger” doesn’t align with the governor’s can-do persona. It doesn’t enable him to don a windbreaker or grapple with machinery alongside predictably deferential transit workers.
It’s true! Every morning, I roll the dice like a “passive” baby lamb when I get on train. Will I be late for work?? Will my L train ever return from war?? It’s an awful version of roulette, and if I was governor, I wouldn’t want to risk those straphangers heckling the hell out of me either!
As one anonymous Democratic consultant sagely told Politico: “He’s smart enough to know that if he showed up on a subway platform at this point, he’d get his ass kicked.”
When Splinter reached out for comment, Cuomo aides pointed out that the governor lives in Albany and Westchester, NY, and as such, cannot use New York City’s public transit system to get to work each day, but said the last time he took the train was on Jan. 1, 2017, to commemorate the opening of the Second Avenue subway.
The aides also emphasized that Cuomo has made trips to study the MTA’s decrepit signal system, walked the tracks, and met with workers who are carrying out his Subway Action Plan. When I pointed out that those things could very well be perceived as photo ops, they characterized these events as bringing attention to work that New Yorkers don’t see every day.
In her campaign to defeat Cuomo, challenger Cynthia Nixon has repeatedly hammered Cuomo uses images of herself amid packed train platforms and rush hour delays. The activist sold shirts that read “What the F?” (get it, like the train line) emblazoned with a direct attack on Cuomo and has made fixing the subway a centerpiece of her campaign. She’s also frequently taken her campaign underground to highlight the system’s myriad issues in a visceral way:
It’s worth noting here that if you’re a New Yorker, the Democratic gubernatorial primary is this Thursday, Sept. 13. You can find your polling place here.