McCall's Mess

Is the Media Hit on His Lieutenant Governor Legitimate?

On NY1 Friday night, Rangel, the top McCall surrogate, started talking about young Andrew's rosy future in New York politics if he just goes gently into the night now, warning that Cuomo will make himself into a pariah if he decides instead to go negative. Since Dicker's questions about Mehiel had been hovering in the wind for a week and a half, Rangel may well have been worried about a very specific negative. McCall's aide Greenberg told the Voice that they have "no doubt that Cuomo's camp is engaging in these personal attacks," citing threats made directly to Mehiel by one unnamed Cuomo ally.

McCall is, of course, hardly the first gubernatorial candidate to make a potentially damaging selection for lieutenant governor. In 1994, George Pataki picked Betsy McCaughey, whose investment banking husband had claimed in divorce papers that he couldn't go to business conferences because she'd had so many "adulterous affairs" known to his colleagues (her response was to indicate that, if she'd done it, he'd "condoned or consented to it"). Pataki's current lieutenant governor, Mary Donohue, ended her marriage a month into office after the state police were summoned by her 10-year-old son to her home because of a still mysterious domestic dispute.

Zillionaire candidate Tom Golisano's first choice for lieutenant governor just dropped out of this year's race when it was revealed that he voted twice last year, using two different addresses, in possible criminal violation of the law. The first female lieutenant governor, Mary Ann Krupsak, turned on the governor who elevated her, Hugh Carey, and challenged him in 1978. Carey's second lieutenant governor, Mario Cuomo, helped force him out of a race for a third term in 1982. Cuomo's first lieutenant, Al Delbello, quit after 25 months, saying he couldn't "carry on the charade of pretending I had a life." It's a job without a portfolio or a public profile. Yet Dennis Mehiel chased it knowing, he says, that all his hurtful history might come out. This laundry list of discards should be enough to make every gubernatorial candidate take a long look over his shoulder at anyone hungry enough to want the post, a warning Carl McCall, who ran unsuccessfully for it himself 20 years ago, might have been expected to understand.

Research assistance: Nate Schweber

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