Andrew Cuomo walked a few blocks on Third Avenue in the Bronx this afternoon with Bill Thompson, and endorsed him for mayor.
The event was ostensibly to boost Thompson’s mayoral campaign, but it felt like a precursor to next year’s governor’s race. Thompson is trailing in the polls and most pundits and observers consider it only a question of how large a margin Bloomberg wins by.
Seven years after running for governor against Carl McCall, an African-American, and a year before he may challenge Governor David Paterson, who is African-American, here he was, in the Bronx, shaking hands and being warmly received, alongside Thompson.
Both Thompson and Cuomo tried urging reporters to focus on this year’s race.
“Let’s take this one election at a time,” Thompson said.
The two walked along Third Avenue, where a throng of reporters bumped most voters off the sidewalk and into the street.
When the pair did stop for questions, the first were focused on Cuomo’s investigation of the use of placement agents in the pension fund, in Albany but also in the city. The city’s pension fund is overseen by Thompson.
Cuomo said he’s endorsing Thompson for mayor, in part, because “he knows the area of finance extraordinarily well.”
When asked whether his investigation presented any conflict with the endorsement, Cuomo said, “Bill was one of the first comptrollers in the nation to step up and adopt my code and I applaud him for that, so in terms of what we’ve been working on, Bill has been very helpful.”
When pressed, Cuomo said the investigation does include the city pension fund, but many others as well.
“Well, the use of placement agents is a nationwide phenomenon and we’ve been looking at placement agents in the city, we’ve been looking at placement agents in other states across the nation, and to the extent we’re making policy recommendations about how to change the system,” he said. “That’s New York State, it’s New York City, and it’s states all across the country.”
Both Cuomo and Thompson downplayed the notion that endorsement was a precursor to Cuomo’s run for governor next year, which he reportedly has started planning.
Thompson, a supporter of the currently embattled governor, David Paterson, told reporters, “Andrew at this point is running for attorney general. He’s indicated he’s running for reelection, so there isn’t any inconsistency.”
“Let’s do one race at a time if we can, if that’s possible,” Cuomo, told reporters. “Let’s support Bill for the mayor’s race. That’s what we’re here to talk about. Next year we’ll talk about next year.”
Cuomo also defended his Election Day party – which an aide told me was closed to the press – saying it won’t interfere with people’s plans that day.
“We’re having a fund-raiser in the evening. I’m sure people will have the opportunity to vote either before or afterwards,” said Cuomo.