Make way for next governor — Tish? Bowman?

Bronx poll has potential to shake up race that's already delivering some surprises

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Letitia James is in. Kathy Hochul most likely will run. And both Bill de Blasio and Jumaane Williams are making a lot of noise about mounting their own campaigns as well.

It’s officially the state election season now, with the primaries less than a year away. And it looks like it might be a bit of a crowded field in the race to become New York’s next governor — but could there be one candidate looking to change his address from Washington to Albany?

U.S. Rep. Jamaal Bowman’s name has surfaced for the first time in the gubernatorial race — one of eight potential candidates, including former governor Andrew Cuomo considered by likely Democratic voters in a Consense Strategies poll in the Bronx last week. While few are surprised to see the state attorney general, the New York City mayor or even the city’s public advocate vying for the state’s top elected office, Bowman is not exactly a potential candidate many have thought of.

He was just elected to Congress a year ago after defeating longtime U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel in the Democratic primary. He’s just getting his footing on Capitol Hill as part of U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s “Squad,” and has been balancing exposure at both the local and national levels.

But then again, it’s redistricting season, and there’s a good chance Bowman’s current constituents won’t be his constituents for long. With the state legislature poised to regain control of the mapping process — and Bowman not exactly winning support by Bronx Democratic leaders for toppling a longtime ally in Engel — it’s not too far-fetched that Bowman might be looking to see what’s next.

Except what’s next, at least according to Bowman’s campaign, is another term in the U.S. House.

“Congressman Bowman is running for re-election,” campaign spokeswoman Rebecca Katz told The Riverdale Press. He “is very focused on delivering for his district, and is fully immersed in his current job as a member of Congress.”

If Bowman was considering a run for the executive chamber, if this early poll is any indicator, the congressman would have a tough mountain to climb — even in the Bronx where much of his base already is solidified.

Consense polled more than 4,000 likely voters in the Bronx last week, asking who they might back. Surprisingly, the person they choose for Andrew Cuomo’s old job is, well, Andrew Cuomo. Nearly 37 percent picked Cuomo over everyone else. James was a distant second at 18 percent. And Bowman? He only finished ahead of Long Island U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi, but not by much, garnering just 4 percent support.

When Cuomo is taken out of the equation, however, Bowman’s backing does double to 8 percent. But even then he’s still deep in the back of the campaign field with state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi — well behind leaders James and de Blasio.

Yet, this is just the Bronx, and why would one county matter more than the 60 or so other counties?

“The Bronx is historically left out of polling, or is undervalued in polling,” said Christian Amato, the founder and chief executive of the political consulting firm. “My agency has a big vested interest in learning more about the Bronx.”

Amato hasn’t connected his firm with any potential gubernatorial candidates at this point, but taking a snapshot of what some voters might be feeling this early in the game could help some candidates decide whether such a run is even doable.

Doug Muzzio doesn’t believe Bowman is actually considering a run for the governor’s office. But if he is, the Baruch College political science professor says he shouldn’t be.

“I think that would be quixotic at the best, and almost psychotic at the worst,” Muzzio said. “Get established in your position. Make a name for yourself then run. (But) not as a first-term congressman.”

Hochul should have a boost being the incumbent, but she doesn’t command the same popularity Cuomo does, and only pulled in 10 percent of likely voters in the Consense poll, and just 16 percent if Cuomo chooses not to run.

In head-to-head matchups, Hochul does beat both Bowman and Biaggi, but not Tish James nor Jumaane Williams, who both commanded large swaths of potential Bronx voters.

Amato’s poll was conducted just before James officially announced her campaign, and before news broke that Cuomo could face at least one criminal charge stemming from the alleged sexual harassment that forced him from office in the first place.

Because the state legislature chose not to move forward with impeachment after he stepped down, Cuomo could actually run again. While he has admitted some of his actions may have been inappropriate, he has denied anything he’s said or done rises to the level of an impeachable, let alone a criminal, offense.

Cuomo really has nothing to lose, running for his old job. But Bowman? Muzzio says he has everything to lose. In fact, even with redistricting looming, Muzzio is much more confident in Bowman’s odds of staying in Washington than his chances of moving to Albany.

“You’re going to give you your seat in Congress for a long, long, long shot for governor?” the professor asked. “No, no. I presume he’s rational. And if so, he’s going to stop considering it — if he has.”

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