Bob Duffy isn’t being pushed out.
He’s leaving of his own volition.
That’s not what the New York City columnists say, it’s not what the political-intrigue people whisper, but it happens to be the truth.
That's what I gather from people familiar with the situation and its development.
A former cop, police chief and Rochester mayor, Bob Duffy was Andrew Cuomo’s surprise pick as a running mate some four years ago. Surprise not because Bob Duffy isn’t qualified, but because most people thought the era of white-male running mates in New York, especially on a Democratic ticket, had passed.
But Duffy was the pick and the Cuomo ticket sailed through with flying colors.
And from the start, Andrew Cuomo has said that the smartest thing he ever did as governor was picking Bob Duffy to be his lieutenant governor.
He may mean it.
Duffy is by nature unwaveringly loyal, he is also affable and kind, somewhat softening the brusque Cuomo style. The governor has told various reporters and editorial boards that he has a close and happy working relationship with the lieutenant governor.
For his part, Bob Duffy has not spoken a public word of criticism about Andrew Cuomo. That same standard has been held to in private conversations as well. The Duffy belief is that when he has a philosophical disagreement with the governor, it is his duty to be silent and withdraw. But where they have agreement – which is almost always – Duffy feels it is his duty to tirelessly speak in support of the governor and his policies.
But Bob Duffy is done.
Not because Andrew Cuomo has said so, but because Bob Duffy has said so.
And the press insistence that Cuomo pushed Duffy out is disrespectful to them both. It implies that Cuomo's choice was failed and Duffy's efforts were inadequate. Neither one of those things is true.
The lieutenant governor notified the governor a few months ago that he did not want to be on the re-election ticket in November. A conversation ensued in which Andrew Cuomo asked Bob Duffy to run again. Duffy said his mind was made up.
It was a civil and collegial exchange. It is quite possible that the two men’s public admiration for one another is genuine.
After Duffy’s decision, presumably efforts began by the governor to select a replacement. Recently, overtures were made to Duffy to reconsider. He again declined.
And so it is that in about two weeks the choice will be made and announced. Andrew Cuomo will march on with a new lieutenant governor and Bob Duffy will come home to Rochester.
He feels great about the decision and does not regret it.
It might be hard for some to understand why Bob Duffy would want to step away from being lieutenant governor, especially when you’re first in line behind a governor who might run for president or be offered a position in a Hillary Clinton administration.
Bob Duffy will explain his reasoning more after the Democratic ticket is announced later this month, but he has repeatedly pointed to his back.
The duties of the lieutenant governor require Bob Duffy to dart across the state, some weeks logging 2,000 miles and more. That might be doable in an aircraft, but it’s torturous in a car – especially when, like Duffy, you are of a certain age and a certain height.
And your back is giving you trouble.
The rigors of riding in an automobile day after day and month after month have left Bob Duffy in a near-constant state of pain.
Whatever his feelings about the ins and outs of Albany and the values of a party and a system, being lieutenant governor has been physically hard on Bob Duffy, almost physically debilitating.
So he’s not signing on again.
He’s going home.
He wasn’t pushed, he wasn’t edged, he wasn’t shoved.
He’s just going home.