This is no time to be messing around.
New York state is in deep financial trouble and its government is so dysfunctional that even efforts to improve it have only served to make matters worse. We need a leader who has good ideas, experience in state government and the political clout to rein in spending and reduce taxes.
The only candidate on the ballot for governor who meets those qualifications is state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.
Cuomo has articulated a "New NY Agenda," a 252-page action plan for turning around the state. The plan includes a property tax cap, mandate relief, consolidating or eliminating 20 percent of state government agencies, consolidation of local government services and elimination of redundant layers of government, limits to state spending and wage freezes for state workers, business tax credits to companies that retain jobs and hire unemployed workers, the creation of regional business clusters with tax credits, and extensive ethics reform.
Cuomo knows the state government better than any of his challengers. He knows the politics, having served as a close aide to his father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo. He's very familiar with the political culture that currently paralyzes Albany, so his learning curve will be brief. And he's served in both the federal and state government at high levels, as HUD secretary in the Clinton administration and the past four years as state attorney general.
We admire Republican Carl Paladino's rage against the machine, particularly his demand for significant cuts in taxes and spending. When he first came out of the gate, his outsider attacks on Albany as a successful upstate businessman were refreshing. But his bombastic approach to governing, along with his irresponsible public comments and personal attacks, reflect someone who lacks the knowledge, social skills and political temperament to govern effectively. His administration would be four years of stagnation, and we can't afford that right now.
As for the other candidates in the race, neither of them has a chance to accomplish anything as governor, although they each do have their strong points.
We've been particularly impressed by Libertarian candidate Warren Redlich, a Guilderland town councilman and attorney who distinguished himself at the lone gubernatorial debate with reasonable, well-considered, educated responses to discussion of the state's problems. He is willing to be specific about how he will eliminate several state agencies, end corporate welfare, and cap public sector pay and pensions as a way of stopping the state's wasteful spending practices.
With more governing experience and by broadening his voter base, Mr. Redlich could become a serious statewide candidate in the future. If you're casting a protest vote, Mr. Redlich is your best choice. But now is not the time to install a newbie in the governor's office, even an articulate one with good ideas.
Perennial Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins, a UPS worker from central New York, is running on a modified New Deal platform that calls for public works projects and taxing the rich, as well as legalizing marijuana and free SUNY tuition. He's not ready to run the state.
Former New York City madam Kristen Davis is actually articulate and smart, and has some legitimate business background beyond the obvious. But no one will take her seriously in Albany, especially when her top issues involve legalizing marijuana and prostitution.
Jimmy McMillan, running on a platform of lowering rent, and New York City Councilman Charles Barron, seeking racial diversity in state government, are one-issue protest candidates.
Andrew Cuomo has some flaws. We're disturbed by his unwillingness to debate his opponents more than once and his failure to face reporters and editors around the state in editorial boards and press association meetings.
His play-it-safe campaign might serve his chances of winning, but it isn't serving his future constituents. He hasn't put forth a very bold agenda for cutting state spending and reining in taxes.
We'd like to see him go further.
And while he's been a strong advocate of open government, putting payrolls and contracts online, he most recently refused to release his public schedule from his last two years in office. This, along with his ostrich campaign, raises red flags about his willingness to govern in the open.
But of the six candidates for governor this year, Mr. Cuomo is the only one with any chance of moving the government forward and fixing the state's problems.
We urge voters to support state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo for governor.
Local editorials represent the opinion of The Post-Star editorial board, which consists of Publisher Rick Emanuel, Editor Ken Tingley, Editorial Page Editor Mark Mahoney and citizen member Gail Infante.