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Lieutenant Governor Duffy's Decision Not To Seek Re-election No Surprise


New York Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy has informed Governor Andrew Cuomo in a letter that he is not running again for a second term, and Cuomo has accepted the resignation from the ticket. Duffy will serve out the rest of his term, which ends in December.

In the letter, Duffy says it’s a “life decision” he’s made to not seek re-election as Lieutenant Governor.  He says the main reason he’s quitting is that the frequent travel that Governor Cuomo has required him to do has left him in “constant pain” from a back disorder.  He also says he’s  grown tired of having to be away from his home and family in the Finger Lakes several days each week. He points out that he never sought the position as lieutenant governor, but says he remains loyal to Cuomo and describes their relationship as “close and congenial." He says he expects to campaign for Cuomo’s re-election.

In addition to dutifully traveling the state to represent the Governor at events Cuomo either could not or did not want to attend, Duffy’s other public role has been to introduce Cuomo at events. Duffy has performed that task to the fullest, often bestowing lavish praise on the governor, as at this event last October to focus on storm preparation.

“This man has provided outstanding leadership,” Duffy said.

Duffy at one point even called Cuomo the “Picasso” of politics, and has received some ribbing for his sometimes over the top introductions.  Duffy, speaking at the storm preparedness event, was consistent with what he wrote in his resignation letter, saying he’s always more than happy to talk up the governor.

“I often get accused of being cheerleader,” Duffy said “Well, I cheerlead out of pride for what this man has done for the state.”  

Speculation that Duffy would leave his job as Lieutenant Governor began a year ago. In the summer of 2013, Duffy bought his Finger Lakes home from a the head of a Rochester business group, and later admitted that he’d applied for the job of  Rochester Business Alliance President Sandy Parker. Parker said she was retiring at the end of the year. The two have said the occurrences were not related.

The speculation about the real estate deal and the lieutenant governor’s political future led to a rare, testy exchange with reporters at the State Fair in Syracuse last summer, where Duffy was once again filling in for Cuomo. Duffy denied that the sale of the half-million dollar property was a “sweet heart” deal.

“I in no way have any qualms whatsoever about something my wife and I did that was something totally above board, totally ethical,” Duffy said. “The one thing I did not do, I did not hold press conference, nor should I ever think I would have to.”

Duffy did eventually withdraw his name from consideration for the Business Alliance job. But Parker has now decided to stay until the end of 2014, leaving the position open in January of 2015, when Duffy will now be out of a job.

Governor Cuomo, in a statement responding to Duffy’s announcement, called the Lieutenant Governor a “great partner” and a “true friend," and says he wishes him “all the best.”   

Until now, Cuomo has said little publicly about Duffy in recent months, but last October, shortly after Duffy withdrew his name from the Rochester business group job, he offered a positive assessment.

“He is the hardest working and most effective member of my administration,” Cuomo said. “Nobody works like the lieutenant governor.”

Cuomo will now have to choose another running mate for the November elections. His choice is likely to become public soon, as Democrats are holding their nominating convention on May 20. 

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of public radio stations in New York state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.
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