New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo are used to navigating the political waters of New York government, but the literal whitewater rapids in which they competed Monday were a different sort of political gamesmanship.
Clad in a Department of Sanitation T-shirt, gym shorts and sneakers, the usually suit-wearing mayor, 71, was pitted against a similarly dressed Cuomo, 55, in a 3-mile whitewater rafting race down the Indian River in the Adirondack Mountains to boost tourism in the upstate New York area.
“[Cuomo] called me up and I said, ‘Oh, I can’t do that,’ Bloomberg said, according to the New York Times. “And he said, ‘You will come.’”
Deemed the “Adirondack Challenge,” the two-day event was the brainchild of the governor’s office, which invited lawmakers and aides from across the state, including state senators, assemblymen, county officials and even the governor’s two daughters, Cara and Michaela.
The event cost the taxpayers of New York about $175,000. Cuomo said the event was “priceless” when it came to promoting tourism, according to the New York Post.
In two teams of six people, Cuomo and Bloomberg boarded their inflatable rafts with paddles in hand and raced down Class 3 rapids to determine who could get the best time. Cuomo won by 18 seconds.
After the race was over, Bloomberg was spotted emerging from the river, dripping wet.
“I took a swim afterward,” Bloomberg said. “The water’s warm. The rocks are slippery. You’ve got to walk down them and be careful, but then I went piling in. I don’t think anybody was happy that I did that. The security guys gagged.”
Cuomo was not so sure of the governor’s story, though, saying, “That’s his story, and we’re sticking with it.”