Editor’s Note: Jonathan Mahler wrote an extensive story for the New York Times about a campaign trip gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo made in a motorhome. The first part of the story follows. To read the entire story, click here.
LAST MONTH, ANDREW Cuomo took some time off from his job as New York’s attorney general, rented a recreational vehicle and drove upstate with his three daughters on an 11-day campaign swing with a little family vacation mixed in: “Camp Campaign” is how Cuomo joked about it with me. The trip infelicitously coincided with what turned out to be a historic heat wave across New York, and he couldn’t get the RV’s air-conditioning to work. At his first stop, a community college in Rockland County, Cuomo emerged from the Gulf Stream, his blazer slung uncharacteristically over his shoulder and a bead or two of sweat on his forehead, calling his new vehicle “a toaster oven on wheels.”
A few days later, I met up with Cuomo about 90 minutes northwest of the city, in Middletown, to ride with him in the RV. He was sporting his usual campaign outfit — white shirt, blue tie, navy jacket, pleated chinos and high-gloss black dress shoes. (This is Cuomo’s idea of casual.) Cuomo spoke to a crowd of about 50 in the local library for 15 minutes, then climbed back behind the wheel of the RV, and we set off for the next stop. “Watch this,” he said as he steered the ungainly vehicle around a sharp corner in the city’s small downtown, crossing well over into the oncoming lane.
It was an unusual campaign trip, and not just because the candidate was doing the driving and taking afternoons off to hang out with his daughters. Cuomo wasn’t so much trawling for votes — he doesn’t seem to have a lot to worry about there — as he was trying to build support for his “citizens’ campaign” to take back Albany. At each event, campaign volunteers with clipboards collected signatures for Cuomo’s five-point pledge to reform New York State’s government. “This campaign is as much about January as it is about November,” Cuomo told me. “I want the whole state singing in the same voice, and the name of the song is ‘Change Albany Now!’ ”
Democrat Andrew Cuomo plans to start a campaign tour of New York today (July 15) aboard an RV in his bid for governor, the Associated Press reported.
According to the campaign, the 11-day swing will include organized events in the Hudson Valley, greater Albany area and northern New York. Cuomo will be traveling with his daughters and plans to meet with local leaders, elected officials and volunteers.
Calling it “Drive for a New NY,” the campaign says volunteers will ask New Yorkers to sign on to Cuomo’s five-point pledge that includes cleaning up Albany and “rightsizing government” that’s too big and expensive.
Cuomo faces Republican Rick Lazio and possibly Carl Paladino, who’s trying to petition his way into a GOP primary.