Miner should run

For the sake of New York’s political health, more candidates are needed to take on Gov. Andrew Cuomo this year.

So far from the Republicans, we have state Sen. John DeFrancisco and former Erie County executive Joel Giambra; Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb just dropped out. Larry Sharpe is running for the Libertarian Party. But for the Democrats, only the little-known former state senator Terry Gipson has declared he’s in.

This is a heavily Democratic-majority state, and it should not let a single man dominate its politics the way Cuomo does now. New Yorkers will need real choices in the party primary Sept. 11 (weird date, huh?) that precedes the Nov. 6 general election.

We’d like to see former Syracuse mayor Stephanie Miner go ahead and run. We’re not ready to endorse her or anyone else, but of the people we’ve heard floated as potential candidates, she stands out.

It wouldn’t be easy. Cuomo, despite his good qualities, leans in hard — sometimes too hard. He has unbridled ambition and competitiveness, and he’s already clashed with Miner. It could get ugly. Plus, Cuomo already has tens of millions of dollars in his campaign fund, probably more than any other candidate will be able to raise.

But Miner would not just be a sacrificial lamb. Many New York Democrats, as well as Republicans, are tired of Cuomo, and Miner offers a clear alternative.

To us she seems pragmatic, nonpartisan and realistic, yet forceful and unafraid as well. Many of her toughest stands have been to cut unnecessary public spending and resist corporate welfare. The word New Yorkers are most likely to associate with her is “infrastructure.” Her Valentine’s Day, 2013, op-ed in the New York Times, standing up to Cuomo on the existential budget problems facing New York cities, still jumps off the page with its clarity and logic.

Cuomo, by the way, did not take well to being crossed by a major-city mayor in his own party. His advice to Syracuse was to fix its own budget problems, even though she had clearly laid out how the city was dependent on a state whose formulas hadn’t kept up with the times.

All this suggests that Miner’s top priority is a fully functional, non-wasteful public sector — rather than a private sector fueled by public funds, which has been the flavor of the decade in American politics.

Miner’s qualifications run deep in her hometown. She was born in Syracuse, grew up there, went to Syracuse University and, after graduating from law school in Buffalo, served two four-year terms on the Syracuse city council before serving two four-year terms as mayor, ending a month ago.

Her age, 47, could be an advantage: old enough for solid experience, young enough to veer from prior generations’ ingrained patterns.

It takes a huge gut check to want to be governor of the nation’s fourth biggest state. That may be what Stephanie Miner is thinking about now.

Cuomo is a good governor in many ways, and no one would be perfect. But voters need options. Otherwise, democracy doesn’t work.

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