Embattled Gov. Andrew Cuomo has insisted he won't resign. And right now one of the surest ways to remain in office amid allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior is relatively simple: Just hang in there.
But as calls for his resignation have grown from Democrats in the state Legislature and from virtually the entire New York congressional delegation, Cuomo has settled into what appears to be, roughly, a three-part plan for survival.
1. Buy time.
There are now two, separate investigations being conducted into the allegations leveled against the governor. One is by the Assembly, which could eventually develop into impeachment charges. A second investigation is under the office of Attorney General Letitia James.
For Democrats, including President Joe Biden, the investigations have been something to point to whenever asked if Cuomo should resign. Supporters of the governor have said he deserves what amounts to "due process" with the investigations.
Cuomo has denied ever touching anyone inappropriately and has apologized for making anyone feel uncomfortable for what he said are jokes made around the office.
And while the investigations can put the brakes on giving the story more momentum, this could be fleeting. Cuomo initially proposed a former federal judge to lead the investigation, essentially appointing his own investigator. This was rejected by Democrats and Republicans alike in the Legislature. James's own review has subpoena power, and she has appointed former federal prosecutor Joon Kim, and employment discrimination attorney Anne Clark to lead the probe.
Cuomo, a former attorney general himself, knows the power of the office.
2. Embrace the base.
Multiple polls now have shown Cuomo's favorability and job approval ratings falling back to earth after reaching near record highs during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. But Cuomo is retaining crucial support from Democrats and from Black voters in New York. While New York voters oppose his resignation 50% to 35% in a Siena College poll released last week, that margin is even greater with Black New Yorkers, 69% to 22%.
Cuomo in recent days has appeared with Black clergy and civil rights leaders at events around New York to promote vaccine access in communities of color. Those leaders have, in turn, praised the governor's handling of the pandemic.
Cuomo has had sustained support from Black voters during the decade he has been in office. And, as he faces questions about his political future, key portions of his base are yet to abandon him.
3. Don't feed the press.
Prior to the governor's near-daily briefings during the pandemic, Cuomo's appearances before the press corps in Albany were scattered in limited. Questions and answers were rare and often Cuomo preferred to speak with one or two interviewers he has had long-standing relationships with over the years.
The pandemic changed that, giving reporters near-daily access to the governor to ask questions. Access has since been altered, first as the governor's office decided to end in-person briefings due to COVID concerns.
Now, as Cuomo is facing the allegations of harassment and inappropriate behavior leveled against him by seven women, the governor is changing tact once more.
Citing COVID restrictions, the press has been restricted from attending recent events the governor has held at mass vaccination sites.
Cuomo on Wednesday would not answer specific questions about the harassment allegations in an off-camera conference call with reporters, citing the investigations (the existence of the investigations previously did not stop Cuomo from taking and answering questions).
On Thursday, as he appeared with representatives of the New York Yankees and New York Mets to announce an easing of restrictions for in-person sports and performing arts events, the governor did not take any questions.
Not taking questions will frustrate reporters and there could even be a lack of clarity on pandemic-related issues. But not taking questions will also at least give less oxygen to the snowballing controversy he faces.
Of course, reporting will continue, whether Cuomo is taking questions or not.