State Republicans thinking big in looking for opponent to Cuomo - The Buffalo News
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State Republicans thinking big in looking for opponent to Cuomo

Assemblyman Bill Nojay of suburban Rochester may not persuade real estate mogul Donald Trump to run for governor next year, but he’s at least waking up the state GOP.

The Pittsford Republican last week suggested Trump would make a formidable candidate against incumbent Democrat Andrew Cuomo – exactly the kind of knight on a white horse the state’s foundering Republicans need.

“My conclusion is if we can convince Trump to run, then he would be a very dynamic candidate,” Nojay told the Democrat and Chronicle. “I think he would beat Andrew Cuomo because Trump is right on the issues. Cuomo is talking, but he’s not doing.”

Trump pretty much dismissed the idea last week during an interview on Fox television, but Nojay may be on to something. In essence, he said the state GOP needs a candidate with money, fame, a business background and the ability to attract Democratic voters.

Curt Smith, the Rochester commentator and former aide to President George H.W. Bush who is a Nojay pal, said Trump could swell upstate turnout to vote against Cuomo’s gun laws in a significant manner.

“And someone like Trump could cut into the Democratic majority in New York City,” Smith said. “On the surface, it looks semi-plausible.”

The problem, of course, is that few billionaires beyond Trump fit that bill. And if state GOP Chairman Ed Cox could find such a dream candidate, he would.

Now Nojay and other Republicans sense Buffalo’s Carl Paladino breathing down their necks. The 2010 Republican candidate for governor is hinting he will run again on the Conservative line if the GOP fails to nominate a competitive candidate.

That could mean disastrous consequences for the New York Republican Party should a well-known and well-financed Paladino outscore a nobody on the GOP line. As a result, people like Nojay are thinking big, and that’s OK with Paladino.

“It would mean deep pockets and name recognition,” Paladino said of Trump. “And if he could talk about the issues, he could be a good Republican governor.”

Without such a candidate, he added, he will weigh his options.

Cuomo, meanwhile, likes where he is even if his sky-high polling of a year ago has fallen back to earth. His campaign kitty is brimming with $28 million, and will grow substantially on Nov. 6 when local Democrats throw a fundraising shindig for him at the Hyatt Regency Buffalo. Sources say at least another $500,000 should flow into Cuomo coffers on that day after Election Day – not a bad way to kick off the new election year.

• Democrat Bernie Tolbert, defeated in his September primary challenge to Mayor Byron Brown, is apparently not going away. The retired head of the Buffalo FBI has been spotted at several Board of Education meetings since his Sept. 10 defeat, underscoring what he has always said is concern about local schools.

“I said all along my number one priority is education,” he said a few days ago, “so I go to board meetings and other things.”

Could a School Board candidacy loom in Tolbert’s future?

He says he will “never say never,” but it’s not in the immediate plan and not why he attends the meetings.

“Buffalo is my home and I came back to be here,” he said. “I’m here to stay and plan to be involved in the community in some way, shape or form.”

• As reported in The Buffalo News, Cuomo received the grand tour of construction cranes during his Tuesday visit. His Buffalo allies pointed out millions in public and private projects as his shiny new Metro bus ferried him and other state officials around town. But surely by accident, they never mentioned Paladino’s $14 million rehabilitation of the former Coffee Rich building on Scott Street even as the Metro bus rolled by.

We don’t know if the governor spied his 2010 opponent’s latest billboard on the building, the one directly addressing Cuomo and asking him to support vouchers for “28,000 kids in failing schools.”

That wasn’t pointed out either.


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