ALBANY – Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino said Tuesday that he has not decided whether to run for governor this year, despite the state Republican chairman’s assertion to The Buffalo News on Monday that Astorino has told GOP members of Congress that he’s in the race.
Astorino, in a session with a handful of reporters at the State Capitol, said he is within 60 days of deciding whether to challenge Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. He said he considers the governor beatable because of what Astorino sees as Cuomo’s failure to deliver the “radical reform” to Albany that he promised three years ago.
State GOP Chairman Edward F. Cox told The Buffalo News on Monday that Astorino has decided to run and that he informed the six members of New York’s Republican congressional delegation of his plans in a recent meeting. Astorino said Tuesday that Cox was not in that meeting and that he prefers to keep private the details of the conversation he had with lawmakers.
Astorino, though, was sounding very much the candidate. He went after Cuomo on the governor’s new property tax reduction plan, which one budget watchdog group said would only be worth about $60 to most Western New York property taxpayers when it becomes fully effective in two years.
“That’s a farce,” Astorino said of the Cuomo property tax plan that he called a “shell game” because it makes some people winners and others losers when it comes to tax cuts.
Buffalo businessman Carl P. Paladino, who as the GOP gubernatorial nominee lost to Cuomo in 2010, has threatened to run on the Conservative line if whoever runs for the GOP does not join him in calling for the ouster of Senate GOP Leader Dean G. Skelos, of Nassau County, and Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb, R-Canandaigua. Paladino has called the two lawmakers “Republicans in name only.”
Astorino praised Paladino, saying, “Sometimes his words aren’t in the right place, but his heart is in the right place.” But, he added, “what Carl is demanding is something of an intraparty fight that would not help whoever runs for governor.”
The Westchester County executive said that if he were elected governor, he would want to see GOP leaders in the Legislature join his effort, but that right now, it’s not his call on who should run the GOP conferences in the Senate and Assembly.
As for Cuomo, Astorino said he is vulnerable because “he promised radical reform in his first State of the State address, and everyone’s waiting for that radical reform. It’s been nothing but the same. … It’s the same reason why he’s not called for the ouster (of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan).
“…It’s because Shelly Silver and Andrew Cuomo are Albany. They’ve been here for 30 years. … You cannot be willing to change the system if that system is all you know.”