New York Gov. Mario M. Cuomo, positioning himself as a crime-fighter and tax-cutter, announced Friday that he would seek a fourth term.
The decision by one of the most durable figures in the Democratic Party--who tantalized the nation with his deliberations over whether to seek the 1992 presidential nomination--was widely expected.
Last year, Cuomo told President Clinton that he did not want to be considered as a possible Supreme Court justice. But in his careful lawyer's style, he left the door open to being a candidate for another seat on the nation's highest court.
Polls show that Cuomo's popularity is lower now than at any previous time he has sought office. But the 61-year-old governor, who possesses formidable rhetorical and campaign skills, still runs ahead of potential contenders.
If reelected, Cuomo would be the longest serving New York governor since George Clinton occupied the executive mansion in 1804.
"At this moment of possibility, I will ask the people for one more opportunity to serve them--an opportunity to complete the job of building the strong, peaceful, prosperous future they deserve," Cuomo said in a statement.
"There have been and continue to be other opportunities for me in life," the governor said. "But none are more important or compelling to me than the mission I have been charged with as governor. I want to finish the job I have begun.
"I don't need polls to tell me at this moment the people are concerned and angry," Cuomo continued. "But I know I can help the state again. I know what needs to be done because I've done it before."
In his state of the state speech Wednesday and again on Friday, Cuomo sketched the outline of his campaign. Some Democrats in the Legislature grumbled that by stressing tax cuts, tough gun control measures, hiring more state troopers and welfare programs featuring work, he sounded more like a Republican than a Democrat.
It was a message designed to undercut many of the issues Republicans plan to use against him in the election. The stark speech was deliberately short on soaring, graceful language, normally a trademark of the governor.
"This is not a time for sweet recitations," Cuomo told the assembled lawmakers. "Shakespeare said it best: Action is eloquence.
"It is tragically obvious that the thing that must concern us first and most at this moment is the people's safety," he added.
A November poll by the Marist Institute for Public Opinion showed Cuomo's approval rating had fallen to 34.4%, and about 60% of the state's voters did not want him to run again. But 57.3% of those polled believed Cuomo had generally been a good governor since first taking office in 1983.
Ex-ambassador to France Evan G. Galbraith announced Tuesday that he would seek the Republican nomination. The field is expected to grow with interest by other potential contenders, including former GOP state chairmen Richard M. Rosenbaum and J. Patrick Barrett.