New York Times withholds endorsement for New York governor in primary

NEW YORK Wed Aug 27, 2014 11:59am EDT

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - The New York Times declined to endorse either Governor Andrew Cuomo or challenger Zephyr Teachout in the Sept. 9 Democratic primary election, citing his failure to clean up corruption and her lack of political experience.

In its Wednesday edition, the newspaper criticized Cuomo, whom it had previously endorsed when he was first elected as New York's governor in 2010, for breaking "his most important promise" to clean up dirty state politics.

Cuomo's decision to disband an anti-corruption commission after repeatedly meddling in its probes of his pet projects was a key reason for withholding the endorsement, the newspaper's liberal-leaning editorial board said.

"The worst moment of all came when Mr. Cuomo blocked the progress of the independent commission he set up to investigate corruption after the panel began to look into issues that may have reflected badly on him and his political supporters," the Times said on its editorial page.

Federal prosecutors in New York have been investigating the panel's shutdown and pursuing its unfinished corruption cases.

Cuomo was lauded by the newspaper for pushing through bills to legalize same-sex marriage, toughen gun control and raise the minimum wage as well as securing four on-time budgets, which boosted the state's credit rating.

But all that was overshadowed by Cuomo's ethics reform failures, the Times said.

"New York still has no comprehensive campaign finance system and has one of the highest donation limits in the country," the Times said.

Cuomo's challenger, Teachout, a Fordham University Law School professor who moved to New York in 2009, also was unable to win the Times' backing.

While commending her for bringing "a refreshing seriousness to the job of cleaning up state government," including her plan to limit campaign contributions to $2,600 compared to the current $60,000, the Times said the political neophyte lacked the experience and cunning needed to get her brightest ideas through the New York state legislature.

Still, the newspaper suggested a protest vote against Cuomo at next month's primary election.

"Those who want to register their disappointment with Mr. Cuomo's record on changing the culture of Albany may well decide that the best way to do that is to vote for Ms. Teachout," the newspaper said.

That would send a powerful message to the governor and other incumbent legislators "that a shakeup is overdue," the newspaper said.

(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Jonathan Allen and; Eric Beech)

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