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Andrew Cuomo, Ralph Shortey and knowing when to let go

Stacy Martin, Managing Editor

It’s not a new story: A politician with either real power or emerging power who has a secret life that, when brought into in the full light of day, brings an end to his (or, sometimes, her) part in the power game. Here’s the latest … 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is plausibly accused of sexual harassment by 11 women, including an explicit assertion he fondled an aide during a meeting at the executive mansion. Things were bad enough for Cuomo after the New York attorney general laid out the rather shocking pattern ranging from gubernatorial groping to salacious and suggestive chit-chit. Now staying in power seems an untenable option, and an unlikely outcome. 

The professed champion of female advancement in political and policy power rose to world-wide prominence for his televised briefings in the early stages of the American COVID crisis, but his decline began with evidence he and his staff suppressed bad news about the Pandemic’s advance in the Empire State. 

All that was preface to the events of recent months, the steady drumbeat of allegations that have destroyed his reputation. The Associated Press projects a strong legislative majority favoring Cuomo’s impeachment. 

Oklahomans remember from the not-so-distant past the story of state Senator Ralph Shortey, who rose to prominence with strong advocacy for traditional moral values and broader conservative objectives. Even many of those who did not share his policy preferences had trouble disliking the south Oklahoma City legislator. 

Often in the midst of harsh argumentation favoring hard-right ends, he had a self-deprecating way of teasing his way into a sort of rapprochement with at least some of his opponents.

And then, he was caught in a motel room with a 17-year-old boy.

As a thoughtful conservative, one of this newspaper’s frequent contributors, wrote put it in a 2017 essay, “he wasn’t there to do spiritual counseling with the lad. The Cleveland County DA charged him with three counts, all involving prostitution.”

Even given the presumption of innocence, his support eroded quickly, including among conservative Republicans.

It took a while, but Shortey was tried and convicted. Whatever else the future holds for him after prison, it won’t include a political office. 

One a liberal Democrat, the other a conservative Republican. 

The latter is in prison for some time yet to come, the former could, in the wake of the latest criminal allegations, be headed toward … something worse than impeachment. Neither seemed to know when to let go of power. 

And, neither knew when to let go of the secrets. 

And now, darn near everyone knows the secrets, and the details. 

NOTE: Stacy Martin is an award-winning journalist with nearly 20 years of experience in Oklahoma media, including at The Oklahoman, The Tulsa Tribune and a previous hitch at The City Sentinel, where she was named managing editor this month.

This story was edited after initial posting, to correct some wording and to include link to an Associated Press story. 

Andrew Cuomo at New York Harbor. Photo: Governor’s website (left), and Ralph Shortey, The City Sentinel File Photo.