“The whole issue was not going to be determined by whether or not the actions were deemed criminal,” said Jay Jacobs, the chairman of the New York State Democratic Committee who was once a close Cuomo ally. “They went against what we would consider appropriate behavior for our highest elected official in the state. That’s why I think that ultimately he made the right choice in stepping down.”
Over the past few months, Mr. Cuomo has reached out to friends and associates to sound them out about the political landscape, and some who have spoken with him came away with the impression that he is interested in finding a way back to relevance in public life.
He was especially focused on how the Albany County district attorney, David Soares, would proceed, according to people who have been in touch with his camp, and likely sees the decision to drop the case as significant.
A spokesman for Mr. Cuomo declined to comment.
A dearth of criminal charges alone, however, is hardly sufficient to pave a path to political redemption, according to interviews with New York political leaders and Democrats who were once seen as his allies. Multiple entities that investigated him said they found his accusers to be credible. But cases built on allegations like those against Mr. Cuomo are very difficult to prove in court.
“They thought the evidence was credible, they thought what the women said really happened, what they said was it didn’t rise to a level they thought they could prosecute beyond a reasonable doubt,” said former Gov. David A. Paterson, a Democrat. “I don’t think it helps restore him.”
Mr. Jacobs has endorsed Mr. Cuomo’s successor, Gov. Kathy Hochul, who delivered her first State of the State this week, and is seeking her first full term as governor this year. And as New York politics moves forward, with a new mayor of New York City and a far healthier partnership so far between the city and Albany than under the shared tenure of Mr. Cuomo and former Mayor Bill de Blasio, there is a real eagerness among many officials to move on.
The Downfall of Andrew CuomoCard 1 of 5
The path to resignation. After drawing national praise for his leadership in the early days of the pandemic, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was confronted with several scandals that eventually led to his resignation on Aug. 10, 2021. Here is what to know about his political demise:
Sexual harassment accusations. Multiple women accused Mr. Cuomo of harassment, including groping and lewd remarks. An independent inquiry by the New York State attorney general corroborated the accounts. The investigation also found that he retaliated against at least one woman who made her complaints public.
“I’m a true believer in due process; he was entitled to that process. I don’t believe he was afforded that process,” said State Senator Diane Savino, Democrat of Staten Island, who praised aspects of Mr. Cuomo’s record. But asked if she believed that he should no longer be in public life, she replied, “Yes. For his sake, for his family’s sake, for everybody’s sake. It’s like, the show is over.”