New York Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy has informed Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a letter that he is not running for a second term, and Cuomo has accepted his 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 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 Cuomo at events the governor either could not or did not want to attend, Duffy’s other public role has been to introduce the governor at events. Duffy has performed that task to the fullest, often bestowing lavish praise on Cuomo, like at one event last October to focus on storm preparation.
“This man has provided outstanding leadership,” Duffy said.
At one point, Duffy even called Cuomo the Picasso of politics, and has received ribbing for his sometimes over-the-top introductions. Duffy, speaking at a 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 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 sweetheart 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.
Gov. 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.