Few women take top positions in New York governor’s campaign
NEW YORK — Carl Paladino has recruited his wife to hit the campaign trail and has put his daughter in a new commercial urging voters to “get to know my dad.” At the same time, Andrew Cuomo has rolled out an advertisement touching on abortion and has ferried his daughters across New York state in an RV on a political tour.
In the race for New York governor, women are suddenly popping up everywhere — everywhere, that is, except inside the campaigns’ inner circles.
Even as Paladino, the Republican, and Cuomo, the Democrat, embrace women’s causes, they rely on strikingly few women as key advisers.
Neither selected a woman as his running mate or campaign manager, and the top ranks of their political operations are conspicuously dominated by men.
The scarcity stands out in a state where the modern women’s rights movement was born and where female voters play a crucial, and at times decisive, role in elections.
And it has contributed, analysts and academics said, to a testosterone-infused race with an unusual emphasis on manhood, and it has allowed for cringe-inducing moments of locker-room language.
Paladino is known to call the female reporters who cover him “honey,” and after TV personality Joy Behar tore into him on the ABC show “The View,” his campaign manager, Michael Caputo, suggested she was “suffering from a sudden hot flash.”
“It’s too bad,” Ruth Messinger, the former Manhattan borough president and a one-time candidate for mayor of New York City, said of the shortage of women on the campaigns. “And I’m not surprised it leads to problematic situations.
“There are issues that are particularly on the minds of women,” she added, “and there’s perspective in messaging that women do bring to a campaign staff.”
Some of the advisers on whom Cuomo relies most heavily are men he has known for years, either from the campaign of his father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, or from the attorney general’s office staff. They include Joseph Percoco, campaign manager; Benjamin Lawsky, deputy counselor and special assistant in the attorney general’s office; Steven M. Cohen, counselor and chief of staff in the attorney general’s office; and Andrew Zambelli, a former aide to Mario Cuomo who handles the campaign’s polling.
Paladino calls upon Caputo, who is a spokesman in addition to campaign manager; Nick Sinatra, an adviser; and John F. Haggerty Jr., a former political operative for Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Aides for both candidates say women play a major role in their campaigns and caution that little should be read into the composition of their senior political staff.