A group of conservative Republicans from across the state is slated to meet with Donald Trump at his Manhattan office today in an effort to persuade the developer/television personality to challenge Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo next November.
Political operative Michael R. Caputo, who served as spokesman for 2010 GOP nominee Carl P. Paladino, said Trump agreed to meet at his Manhattan office with him and five state legislators to discuss a gubernatorial candidacy that he has already publicly discouraged.
But Caputo said Assemblymen William Nojay of suburban Rochester and David J. DiPietro of East Aurora are spearheading the effort that also includes one other Republican senator and three members of the Assembly, as well as several GOP consultants. Caputo, also a political consultant, said the fact that Trump accepted the group’s request for a meeting to talk about running is significant.
“Everyone hopes he will change his mind because he’s the only one with a clear path to win,” he said. “Basically, no Republican – actually no human – out there has what Donald Trump has.”
Caputo said the group will present Trump, who in 2012 toyed with the idea of running for president, with a plan containing a detailed strategy and financial plan. He said he believes Trump can win a healthy percentage of overwhelmingly Democratic New York City and present a serious challenge to Cuomo.
“Donald Trump comes to the table with numbers already,” he said, “and he will have better numbers in upstate New York than anyone.”
Nojay originally floated the Trump candidacy notion several weeks ago, but Trump seemed to have dismissed the idea. But with Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino exploring a Republican candidacy, and Paladino threatening to reprise his 2010 effort on the Conservative line should the GOP field a non-competitive candidate, Nojay and DiPietro are seeking to revive the Trump talk.
“It’s not that we don’t like Astorino or Carl, it’s just that the Republicans need to cast a wide net,” Caputo said.
Paladino has issued stronger and stronger hints in recent weeks that he will run on the Conservative line if the GOP nominates someone with no name recognition, money or commitment to conservative principles. The group believes Trump would fulfill all those criteria.
Today’s meeting follows a major fund raising event staged Tuesday evening by the Cuomo campaign that was expected to significantly add to the governor’s $28 million campaign treasury.