Hugh Carey...a Governor for his time, and ours...
His first three years as Governor were tumultuous. He whipped a recalcitrant State Legislature into submission, and saved NY City from financial collapse. His popularity upstate, though, waned, with all the attention given to NY City's issues. By 1978, his re-election chances were dim, as he faced popular Lomg Island Lobsterman Perry Duryea, the Assembly Minority Leader. In the 1974 campaign, his choice for Lt. Governor , Mario Cuomo, lost the primary to upstate NYS Senator Mary Ann Krupsak. Carey appointed Cuomo Secretary of State, which gave him a platform to travel about the state and hone his stump speech skills, Mary Ann Krupsak, with whom Carey had a tense relationship, did the same. He gave her little else to do.
Their forced marriage came to an abrupt conclusion in 1978, when his Lt. Governor decided to bolt the ticket and challenge her boss for the nomination. At the time, I was the youngest County Democratic chair in the state ( Oswego County), and I will never forget the call I got on the Sunday before the Albany convention in early June. I was in the yard trimming my rosebushes when my wife summoned me to the phone..."The Lt. Governor is on the line!" indeed it was Mary Ann Krupsak, with whom I had developed a close and cordial relationship. She was calling to tell me that she had had enough of Carey, and was bolting the ticket! I tried to talk her out of it, to no avail. I asked her if she had told the Governor yet, and she said no, just a few County chairs she felt close to. Ok. So there I was, all of 27 years, and the LG of NY was telling me she was leaving the ticket, but the Governor did not yet know. Her reasons for not yet telling him were colorfully expressed!
I got off the phone, numb for a few minutes, wondering what to do, I called Judge Conway for advice, and he agreed to meet me at my law office in 10 minutes. He would help me get through to his old friend Hugh Carey on the phone.
We reached the Governor's security detail, and he was in a helicopter on the way back from Shelter Island to Albany. the Governor called back, and Judge Conway handed me the phone ,
"Governor, I have some disturbing news for you, I said. I just got off the phone with Lt. Governor Krupsak, and she is bolting the ticket!" "She's what! Governor Carey roared back" Why that ungrateful @&$!&& ! "And she's only a heartbeat away from being Governor of this state! " he fumed.
"Who else has she told this to ?," he asked. "A few other County Chairs", I responded. "If she's telling County Chairs she might as well be telling the press" he thundered." What would you do if you were me?", he asked. Pause...the Governor of NYS is asking me, a 27 year old virtual nobody Small County Chair what to do. This is heavy stuff!
"I'd get into my car, and drive over to Menands, and have a cup of tea with her, and try to sweet talk her back onto the ticket", I finally said, sheepishly. " I'm not going to give that woman the satisfaction ", he fumed back at me. The conversation ended by his telling me to keep his counsel, and that John Burns, ( the State Chair) would get back to me.
Burns called a couple of hours later to confirm the bad news. There was no turning back, Krupsak was off the ticket.
To be continued...