City lawyer gets 600 to join chorus crying 'Cuomo!' Petition is sent to N.Y. State House

November 29, 1991|By C. Fraser Smith

On the subway one morning recently, Mike Davis started his own Cuomo For President movement.

He was struck by a newspaper story reporting that Andrew Cuomo, son of New York Governor Mario Cuomo, was urging his father to run for president.

Mr. Davis decided to give Andrew Cuomo a hand.

Within days, he had a petition with 600 names on it headed toward the State House in Albany.

"If there were space," said a letter accompanying the signatures, "we would recount the hopes and fears expressed by those who have signed this petition. Suffice to say many people are desperate for a change. Now more than ever the country needs the kind of leadership you have demonstrated throughout your career."

Similar entreaties from at least five other states have been sent to Mr. Cuomo at his office in Albany, a spokesman in his office said. The governor gets about 1,000 letters a week. State level representatives, congressmen, county Democratic Party chairs and rank and file voters have urged the governor to declare, the spokesman said. The governor has given no firm indication of what he will decide or when.

Mr. Davis, a 31-year-old lawyer at Venable Baetjer & Howard, said he wanted to show that Maryland Democrats, in general, not just elected officials, want Mr. Cuomo to run.

"We are just normal people who are concerned about where the country is going," he said. In addition to being a lawyer, Mr. Davis has worked on a number of Democratic campaigns in Maryland, including those of Gov. William Donald Schaefer and Senator Paul S. Sarbanes, D-Md.

What the country needs, Mr. Davis said, is a Democrat who can aggressively present the arguments for a change of direction.

"Cuomo can articulate the middle-class squeeze and what happened to this country in the 1980s," he said. "A quarter of the money we pay in taxes today goes to the national debt."

As a guest on ABC's "This Week with David Brinkley," Mr. Cuomo said that Democrats cannot solve the country's problems simply by "running down George Bush." They will need to present "an investment-oriented growth plan."

But, he added, any of the six declared Democrats would be better than President Bush, because "all of them take the first step, which is to acknowledge that we are in deep trouble."

Mike Davis agrees that Mr. Cuomo's candidacy will have to overcome charges that his state has endured massive budget problems in recent years. He said Mr. Cuomo can argue that national economic policies have hurt the states. He can also argue that he has balanced his budgets for eight years.

In a recent television interview, Mr. Cuomo suggested that no governor can fairly be called a bad manager in these economic times: "Is it reasonable to think that all the governors . . . went mad at the same moment? That they are all wild, liberal, poor managers?" he asked.

Mr. Davis said his confidence that Mr. Cuomo will run grew as he watched Mr. Cuomo answer questions such as this one. He said he is not frustrated that Mr. Cuomo has not made his decision.

"He's right not to let activists and those who are already in the race decide when he should get in. He has to set his own timetable. My assumption is that he will do it."

Mr. Davis said that he is not concerned that some voters might come to regard Mr. Cuomo as just another liberal from the Northeast with an ethnic name -- a candidate to be rejected as former Massachusetts Governor Michael S. Dukakis was four years ago.

"For people who are naturally against Cuomo, that will be their excuse, but they would be disinclined to vote for a Democrat anyway," he said.

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