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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley are considered Democratic frontrunners for a 2016 presidential bid.
But the way both men handled this cycle’s prickly process of Congressional redistricting in their respective states is already being discussed as an early differentiating factor.
Among Democrats hoping to take back the House in November and many New York Members, there is disappointment with the way Cuomo handled the Empire State’s federal redistricting process. And if Cuomo makes a bid for the presidency in 2016, they won’t forget that he didn’t use his considerable political capital to help push through a more favorable and partisan map for Democrats, but instead let a court draw the lines.
“There will be national electeds who remember that he, at the height of his power, had the ability to step in and get a map done [for Democrats] and didn’t,” one New York Democratic operative said with more than a touch of frustration.
Cuomo, who already has a particularly cool relationship with New York lawmakers on Capitol Hill, didn’t help his cause.
“He definitely annoyed some folks,” said a Capitol Hill aide for a Democratic Member. “In terms of his relationship to Washington, it doesn’t help.”
The aide noted that Cuomo, unlike his predecessors, has been noticeably absent from the nation’s capital since he took office in 2011.
“He’s made a strategic decision that he doesn’t go to D.C.,” the aide said. “He wants to wait to travel until he’s an announced candidate for president or right before.”
That stands in stark contrast to O’Malley, whose proximity to the nation’s capital and role as the head of the Democratic Governors Association puts him in D.C. regularly. He met one-on-one with every Member of his state’s Congressional delegation to discuss redistricting, something Cuomo didn’t do. O’Malley signed a map into law in October that may have angered some Members but helped Democratic prospects this year and beyond. Democrats are likely to pick up the seat held by Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R) in November.
“O’Malley is a pretty good politician, and he wants to make sure everyone in the state of Maryland, if he leaves to do something else, remembers him positively,” a Maryland Democratic strategist said. “The last thing on earth that you want to do is have your teammates in Maryland scream that you screwed them over.”