‘A lot of time with cars and fish’: One year later, Andrew Cuomo still regrets his resignation

One year later, Andrew Cuomo still regrets the resignation. He has had no fixed address since he left the governor’s mansion last August. He has been on a few dates but remains single. And he is keenly interested in the results of his successor’s campaign this November – because if Kathy Hochul loses, it could open the door to Cuomo’s political revival.

Cuomo, who resigned amid multiple sexual harassment allegations against him, initially appeared to be pursuing a more aggressive comeback strategy. Last spring, he gave speeches and floated a trial balloon with which he could challenge Hochul, either in the Democratic primary or as an independent candidate. Some of the poll numbers even looked encouraging for him, but the petition deadlines passed and Cuomo didn’t act. Since then, aides say Cuomo has deliberately kept a low profile — “he spends a lot of time with cars and fish,” says one insider — and has focused on repairing the damage to his family. The harassment scandal was especially painful for his three daughters, a friend says, and subjecting them to another round of ugly headlines was a big reason Cuomo decided not to make a 2022 bid.

The former governor owns no property, so he spent many nights at his brother’s house Chris Cuomothe hamptons house. Cuomo also slept with his sister Maria Cuomo Coleat the Westchester house and at a friend’s apartment in the city. He is hardly a recluse. In June, Cuomo gave a eulogy at the Connecticut funeral of William O’Shaughnessy, a publisher and longtime friend of the Cuomo family. On Twitter in late July, he could be seen grinning and posing with his latest trophy of fish and he has judged everything from school shootings until the Supreme Court is overruled Roe v. Wade.

A a tweet however, this week has attracted much more attention. Cuomo demanded the federal Justice Department “immediately explain” the FBI’s Mar-a-Lago search, saying anything less could damage credibility in other investigations into the former president Donald Trump. Cuomo’s role as expert on the investigation, especially on the eve of the one-year anniversary of his resignation over the scandal, did not sit well with most Twitter commentators. “From the moment he stepped down, he said, ‘I’m not going anywhere, and if I have something to say, I’m going to say it,'” a Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi says. “I think the reaction to the recent tweet shows that when he says something, people notice and that people want to hear what he has to say.”

At 64, Cuomo’s energy is undiminished; he also has $10 million in campaign finance money, according to the latest disclosures. If he’s a Republican Lee Zeldin if he defeats Hochul this fall — which would be a huge upset — Cuomo will be sorely tempted to try to resume his seat at the top of state Democratic politics, though the party doesn’t appear to be longing for his return. Another, less controversial path back to influence would be run by the Cuomo Super PAC. “I’ve never seen him take another job — becoming a CEO of a company,” the friend says. “But I think he’s looking at the state of the Democratic Party and the power vacuum and the leadership vacuum. And I just don’t know if I see him sitting forever…I think by the fall there will be some activity around him.”

Longtime aides described Cuomo as more bitter than apologetic. “Is he at peace?” – asks one of them. “He uses that phrase, but not in the way you and I would.” It means he has accepted his fate. But there is no rest for him. There never will be. There is this kind of natural antagonism in the way he views himself that “at peace” means “The result is the result. There is nothing I can do to change it. But…” And there is a big one but with him.”

For more than 10 years, Cuomo was the dominant, dominant figure in state politics. He rose from a bitter defeat in the 2002 primary to regain, eight years later, the office his father had held for three terms. Then, in the early months of the COVID pandemic, Cuomo became a national star before suddenly and spectacularly collapsing. He has already come under fire fighting accusations that he inflated the number of coronavirus deaths (in February 2021, Cuomo acknowledged a lack of transparency about nursing home deaths as a mistake, but did not issue a full apology). But Cuomo’s troubles quickly accelerated when he became the target of sexual harassment allegations from 11 women — allegations he has persistently and consistently denied.

On August 10, 2021, a week after the New York State Attorney General Letitia James released a scathing investigative report, Cuomo sat before a television camera and read a 20-minute speech in which he announced he would formally resign in 14 days. He spent most of the next eight months deeply involved in trying to refute the findings of the James report. Cuomo’s personal attorney, Rita Glavin, issued its own report and held a series of press conferences disputing the attorney general’s report and attacking the credibility of some of the women who had accused the governor. Cuomo’s camp has argued that James and others used the sexual harassment allegations to do what his opponents could not do in the election, drive him out of office. The former governor and his legal team also spent time fending off attempts to charge him with a crime — a complaint filed by the Albany County Sheriff’s Office on behalf of a former Cuomo staffer who said she was groped was dismissed by the district attorney on Albany County.

Cuomo’s ferocious counteroffensive caused collateral damage, most notably for his brother, Chris Cuomo. Andrew Cuomo’s attorney, Glavin, has repeatedly called on the attorney general to release transcripts of her testimony. When the documents became public, they failed to clear Cuomo’s name; instead, they chronicle Chris Cuomo’s frantic attempts to help his brother while Chris Cuomo hosts a prime-time CNN show. In December, the network fired Chris Cuomo, often its top-rated anchor. “The person who should have the biggest fight with Andrew for insisting on making all this stuff public is his brother,” says a former employee. “If Andrew had resigned and gone quietly, Chris would still be on CNN at nine o’clock right now.”

In July, Chris Cuomo began his comeback by launching a podcast; this fall he will return to television with a show on the obscure NewsNation. His big brother is trying to stay out of the limelight and out of his way for now. “Nothing has been harder for him than watching what happened to Chris,” the friend says.

With Chris’s re-emergence underway, his older brother may be starting to itch. However, Andrew Cuomo is not completely free of legal obstacles. He is facing a civil suit from “Troper 1,” as identified in the report by James, a New York State trooper who claims Cuomo “touched her in private parts” while she was assigned to his bodyguard (which he denies). And given the number of allies Cuomo has antagonized, both in his years as governor and on his way out the door, plotting rehabilitation is much easier than achieving it would be. “I don’t know what he’s doing,” said another former top Cuomo official. “I really hope it’s nothing.”