Photo Credit: Picture provided by Team Cuomo
Pictured left to right: Former assemblyman and former city council member Alan Maisel; Sue Ann Partnow, district election coordinator; former Governor Andrew Cuomo, Assemblywoman Jaime Williams; Senator Roxanne Persaud; and former assemblyman, former surrogate court judge and Thomas Jefferson Democratic Club President Frank Seddio.

Former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo made his first appearance at a political club since leaving office in August of 2021. Cuomo, 65, spent more than 30 minutes talking about a wide range of topics at the venerable Thomas Jefferson Democratic Club in Canarsie, Brooklyn.

He spoke before an audience of approximately 100 people on a wide range of topics on September 14, including coming out of his funk since leaving office, what he learned about himself, the situation the country is in, the struggle political forces have nationally, the major legislation he got passed through the state Legislature, Democratic values, the migrant crisis and the future for New York Democrats.


Notably absent from among the attendees was Kings County (Brooklyn) Democratic Chairwoman Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, an assemblywoman from the Midwood section of Brooklyn.

Bichotte Hermelyn declined to comment about Cuomo’s appearance.

“Thursday nights are the nights that all [Democratic] clubs meet,” the TJ Democratic Club president, Frank Seddio told The Jewish Press. “She may have had her own club meeting that night.”

Cuomo started his remarks by complimenting the club president Frank Seddio saying, “He has forgotten more about politics than I will ever know.”

About Senator Roxanne Persaud (D – Canarsie), “I worked with her for many years and she is a superstar. She represents you relentlessly, intelligently and tirelessly,” Cuomo said.

Asked for a comment about the flattering remarks and her reaction to Cuomo’s speech, Persaud refused to offer any thoughts about the gathering.

About Senator Kevin Parker (D – Flatbush), a longtime legislator, Cuomo said, “The more and better you know Kevin the more you’re going to respect the quality that he brings to the job because he’s something special.”

Representing Governor Kathy Hochul was Shirley Paul, Hochul’s senior advisor and director of constituency affairs.

As if coming out of a therapy session, Cuomo spoke about his trials and tribulations over the past two years.

“I’ve had a rough couple of years. The expression you hear a lot of is well, if it doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger. That’s true. What they don’t tell you is that it hurts like heck in the meantime,” Cuomo said. “What’s worse is that it hurts people around you. It hurts your family. It hurts innocent people. Your colleagues. So, it’s been a long couple of years. Nietzsche first said what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. It’s also in the Bible and I prayed on it, referencing this quote, “G-d will send you trials and the trials will teach you resilience and will teach you faith and patience because the truth comes out in time, always, always.”

Cuomo referenced President Harry Truman’s mantra, “You want a friend in Washington? Get a dog.”

“Going through that process I learned about myself and the people around me. Friends and politics. When the heat gets hot, you see how the friends and politics can change,” Cuomo said. “Many of the people in this room are true friends and stuck with me and I thank you very much.”

Seddio, 76, a former assemblyman and former surrogate court judge, has known the Cuomo family for more than 45 years. He gave The Jewish Press some insight as to why Cuomo made this appearance at the Canarsie-based meeting hall.

“He’s very positive about his own plans for the future. While he’s not indicating that he has any immediate plans, I do believe he’s looking to come back into the public sector. I don’t make decisions for him. I don’t believe he’s looking to run for governor again,” Seddio said. “I don’t see that as an issue. I do see that there may be other positions that he might consider worthy of someone of his stature. It’s my impression that he can be effective in any position that he does hold but it’s certainly not going to be governor.”

Before getting into the meat of his remarks, Cuomo was philosophical about his life and the situation the country is in right now.

“Life is about tomorrow. I want to be honest and I want to tell you the real truth because I think we are in really difficult times,” Cuomo stated. “I don’t think it’s going to get any better. I don’t believe ignoring a problem is ever the answer.”

Cuomo defined the difference between the goals of the Democratic and Republican parties.

“We represent the people on the street who are working every day, and that government is to make a difference. There is no theory here. There is no abstract government policy. You’re either helping people or you are not helping people. Make government work for the people. That’s our essence. That’s why we’re important. That’s why we win. That’s why we succeed. Because we make a difference,” Cuomo said of the Democratic Party.

As for the Republicans, Cuomo summed up what he believes to be their focus.

“Crime is not an issue for people in a Manhattan penthouse who have a doorman, a security guard and a driver, our people are the victims of crime,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo also criticized national Democrats for ignoring the problem of crime.

“This country is in the middle of a social crisis,” Cuomo said. “Socialism, alienation, which then lead to a political polarization. We just closed our eyes to the crime problem and we paid for it. Hakeem Jeffries should be Speaker Hakeem Jeffries if we did what we needed to do.”

Cuomo was pessimistic about next year’s federal elections.

“I’m afraid we’re doing it again. I’m afraid we’re doing it again with this migrant issue. I think we’re making mistake after mistake. It starts with the federal government. This was a federal responsibility, period. First and foremost. Not the state and not the city. Immigration law is a federal responsibility. How we get to a place where Governor Abbott of Texas decides where hundreds of thousands of migrants go around this nation is laughable. Who are Governor Abbott and Governor DeSantis to decide: Chicago you get 10,000, Los Angeles you get 5,000? This is a function for the national, federal government to manage and make every state, every city, do its fair share. It is a federal responsibility. Then, pay the cost of the bill for the migrants and don’t ask the taxpayers of any city to pick up the bill.”

Cuomo still harped on the failings of Washington dating back to the Reagan administration, when his father, the late Governor Mario Cuomo held the governorship in the Empire State.

“There was an expression used by President Reagan, who was very good at saying the states and the cities should take care of them. He passes the buck, without passing the bucks. You’re responsible but he wouldn’t provide any funding,” Cuomo said.

The polarization Cuomo spoke about included Republicans from moderate and far-right [sectors] and Democrats who are liberal or progressive on one side of the political spectrum and moderate Democrats on the other end. Cuomo even went as far as to say the world is flat:

“The Republicans always had the extreme right but it is stronger than ever before. That’s why they’re taking positions to the right. Their position on abortion is opposed by a majority of Republicans but they have to be responsive to the far right. They oppose assault weapons. The majority of Republicans in this country support a ban on assault weapons but they are afraid of the far right. They are afraid of the far right by the election deniers. That’s how powerful that pull is. If they move any further to the right, they’re going to fall off the edge of the planet.”

As for the Democrats, Cuomo assessed the situation as far left and moderate.

“We have a far left on the Democratic side. We’ve always had a far left on the Democratic side. We’ve always had great internal debates and struggles in the Democratic party. Regulars and reformers.

“Today’s reformer is tomorrow’s party hack,” Cuomo said, quoting past Kings County Democratic chairmen. “You have insurgents who then become incumbents. We’ve always had that back and forth.”

Cuomo continued to focus on the federal government and the relationship President Biden has with Governor Hochul, without mentioning her directly by name, when it comes to the migrant crisis.

“Mayor Adams is right. It is unsustainable for New York City to carry this burden. There is no legal, ethical, financial, practical way that you can ask New York City to do this,” Cuomo said. “They don’t have the financing. Then all these children are going to have to be educated. All these people are going to need healthcare. They’re going to New York City hospitals. Who is going to pay this bill?”

Cuomo then listed all the issues plaguing the Big Apple.

“This is the migrant issue on top of the crime issue, on top of homelessness, on top of the other sanitary conditions in the city, on top of post-Covid, which means people have to remote work,” Cuomo said. “They don’t have to be here anymore. They can move to another state with lower taxes, don’t have the joy of shoveling snow, and they can work remotely. There is no way New York City should be shouldering this burden.”

Cuomo had a dire prediction for lawmakers in next year’s election when the state Legislature and Congressional incumbents are up for election.

“Politically, this issue is going to hurt us badly. It’s going to be the issue of crime from the last election plus [issue of migrants during this [upcoming] election,” Cuomo warned. “It’s going to hurt us and when I say us, I mean us. Well, it’s Mayor Adams, no. It’s Joe Biden, no. It’s the governor. (Audience chuckles and Cuomo smiles.] It is going to hurt politically.”

Cuomo called the elected officials – the decision-makers – lethargic when it comes to deciding to correct a crisis.

“Why aren’t we doing anything about the migrants? Do you know why? It’s controversial,” Cuomo said with exasperation. “Do you know what happens in politics? No one wants to go near the controversial issue. You’re into politics, you’re in the business of making friends, not enemies. Well, what I’m going to do I’m going to get into trouble. So, you know what I’m going to do? I’m going to do nothing. Nothing is the easiest thing to do. Wrong. Wrong.”

As expected from a leading Democratic official, Seddio said that if Republicans use the botched handling of the migrant crisis by the governor and state lawmakers, it will backfire on the Republican political strategy. Keep in mind, Republicans never take advice from the leaders of the opposing party.

“As long as they [the Republicans] are going to use the rhetoric of people who have come to this country in search of being free and trying to accomplish what many of those people’s grandparents did is going to backfire at some point because you’re going to find that many of the migrants are coming to this country because they want a better life for themselves and their families,” Seddio said. “All we [Democrats] have to do is provide the same opportunities. We may not be able to do everything that we’re doing with the huge influx we have but certainly many of them will in years to come be very prominent in the workplace. What we need to be able to do is to offer the opportunities and not hinder those opportunities with restrictions like you have to wait six months just to go to work.”

Cuomo pointed to a lethargic atmosphere among Democrats.

“This is where I came from, a totally different school. Denial is not a life strategy. If you do nothing about this problem, it is going to get worse and worse and worse. Turning your back or pointing fingers, saying it’s his problem or her problem or someone else’s problem, it’s only going to increase. This migrant focus is not going to stop and they’re not going anywhere else. We have to step up and address it. Well, it’s hard. I have news for you. It’s all hard. It’s all hard. You want to make a difference. You want to make a change. You want to be in government. You want to be in politics. There is nothing meaningful that is not hard,” Cuomo concluded.

Share this article on WhatsApp:

Previous articleIsraeli Forces Arrest 12 Terror Suspects in Judea, Samaria Raids
Next articleBen Gvir, Protesters Cancel Dueling Prayers at Dizengoff Square
Marc Gronich is the owner and news director of Statewide News Service. He has been covering government and politics for 44 years, since the administration of Hugh Carey. He is an award-winning journalist. His Albany Beat column appears monthly in The Jewish Press and his coverage about how Jewish life intersects with the happenings at the state Capitol appear weekly in the newspaper. You can reach Mr. Gronich at [email protected].