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Andrew Cuomo dines with Peter Ward as he ponders a comeback

Disgraced Ex-Reg. Andrew Cuomo had lunch with an influential union honcho as he considered making a comeback bid for his old office, sources told the Post.

Cuomo met with Peter Wartformer President of hotel trade councilEarlier this week at his favorite business venue, Fresco By Scotto restaurant.

But Ward’s old union, which represents thousands of hotel workers, has already backed Cuomo’s successor, Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul, to remain the leader.

The meeting with Ward took place a day before him spoke with controversial former lawmaker Rev. Ruben Diaz Sr. and the Hispanic Clergy Association in the Bronx. Diaz has been vilified in the LGBT community for making homophobic comments and voting against the gay marriage law that Cuomo lobbied for in 2011.

The former three-year Democratic governor named Ward as one of his representatives on the MTA Board from 2015 to 2019.

“When Andrew meets with Rev. Reuben Diaz and Peter Ward in the same week, he scoffs at a comeback — or at least wants people to think he’s stepping over the hoops,” said Allen Cappelli, who works for his father worked the late three-year governor Mario Cuomo for 12 years.

Andrew Cuomo is seated next to Hotel Trades' Peter Ward
The ex-governor also met with former lawmaker Rev. Reuben Diaz Sr. and the Hispanic Clergy Association in the Bronx.
Matthew McDermott

Fresco by Scotto Owner Anthony Scotto confirmed the two had eaten at his Italian restaurant.

“Former Governor Cuomo had lunch with Peter,” said Scotto, who knows both well. He said Cuomo hosted large dinners with union leaders at the restaurant while he was governor.

Scotto – whose guests included former Republican President Donald Trump – said the restaurant was neutral political territory. Cuomo also recently had dinner with the former NJ GOP governor. Chris Christie at the Midtown restaurant.

“We are Switzerland here,” he joked.

But Cappelli doesn’t want any part of an Andrew Cuomo reappearance. He had a good relationship with Mario, but had a falling out with Andrew in 2002 when Cappelli was campaign manager for Democrat Carl McCall’s candidacy for governor against Andrew. McCall, then the state comptroller, defeated Cuomo in the primary — and he said Andrew never forgave him for working for McCall.

“Andrew should get off the stage. I told him in 2002 not to run against Carl McCall, who was the better candidate. I would tell him today that Kathy Hochul is the better candidate and he shouldn’t run,” Cappelli said.

Peter Wart
Peter Ward is the former President of the Hotel Trades Council, which succeeded Allen Cappelli in 2015.
Paul Martinka

Sources said Cuomo, who resigned under threat of impeachment after a series of Allegations of sexual harassmentHe is more seriously considering making a comeback later this year — possibly as an independent under his own party banner, if not as a Democrat, sources said.

He was carried by one Emerson College survey showing that he was just four points behind Kathy Hochul, his former lieutenant governor, in a hypothetical Democratic primary.

Cuomo said after meeting Diaz and Hispanic ministers Thursday, “I’m open to all options.”

Cuomo also said he was open to starting his own political party rather than trying to secure the Democratic Party’s spot in November’s election.

“I’ve done this before,” the lifelong Democrat claimed, referring to his invention of the Women’s Equality Party in 2014.

Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo is signing legislation at the NY Hotel Trades and Council Association.
Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo signs legislation at the NY Hotel Trades and Council Association in 2017.
Robert Mueller

“My dad did it before,” he added, apparently referring to Mario Cuomo’s unsuccessful 1977 mayoral bid when he ran on the Liberal Party line in the general election after losing the Democratic primary earlier that year.

Some longtime Cuomo staffers remain skeptical that the scandal-ridden former governor could make a comeback so soon, and expressed concern that he could only play spoilers and help elect a Republican by running a third-party candidacy.

But a source briefed on Cuomo’s thinking said, “Cuomo is really digging deep and looking at this. He was encouraged by some donors.”

Sources said he is also calling political advisers conducting field operations to petition to participate in the vote.

Cuomo still has $16.4 million in his campaign treasury, money he’s now using to run Campaign style TV spots as part of an effort to at least redeem its tarnished reputation. The ads defend his record as governor and claim he is innocent of the sexual harassment allegations because prosecutors declined to prosecute him.

His campaign committee — Friends of Andrew Cuomo — spent about $2.1 million in the latter half of 2021 but raised just $224,270.55.

Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a meeting of the New York Hispanic Clergy Organization
Former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo resigned in 2021 amid allegations of sexual harassment.
Seth Little/AP

college set a record $21.9 million in the latter half of 2021. Institutional players — unions, real estate developers and others who depend on Albany’s support — have switched allegiance from Cuomo to Hochul, making it harder for the former governor to raise large donations in the future.

“I’m so focused on the next two weeks right now to get a budget through… I’ll focus on politics later,” Hochul said when asked if she was worried about a possible primary against the ex-police force do an independent press conference in Buffalo on Friday.

And Cuomo has other baggage besides sexual misconduct.

A devastating state exam The report, released Tuesday by state comptroller Tom Di Napoli, found that the state health agency under Cuomo deliberately “misled” the public about the number of nursing home deaths from COVID-19 to support Cuomo’s reputation while negotiating with a publisher to write a book on its response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Specifically, investigators found that DOH officials underestimated the death toll by at least 4,100 residents and at times by more than 50 percent. The audit mirrored the findings of a similar report released by the Attorney General Letizia James last year.

https://nypost.com/2022/03/18/andrew-cuomo-dines-with-peter-ward-while-mulling-comeback-bid/ Andrew Cuomo dines with Peter Ward as he ponders a comeback

JACLYN DIAZ

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