Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, left, has filed an “Astorino for Governor Committee” with state board of elections. That is not a formal declaration of candidacy. Donald Trump, right, who has signaled his interest in challenging Gov. Cuomo has said he would step aside if Astorino announces he is running.

Republican Rob Astorino has filed an “Astorino for Governor Committee” with the state Board of Elections – his most concrete step to date signaling a challenge to Democratic incumbent Andrew M. Cuomo this year.

A source close to the Westchester County executive said the Monday move does not signal that a formal declaration of candidacy is imminent, but it allows the Astorino campaign to become organized and seek the millions of campaign dollars needed to challenge the well-funded Cuomo.

The move follows the Monday departure of Michael Lawler as executive director of the state GOP to join the Astorino campaign. The Republican State Committee is headed by Chairman Edward F. Cox, also an Astorino supporter.

Though Astorino is not yet a formal candidate, Manhattan real estate developer Donald J. Trump told The Buffalo News last week that he would step aside in his effort to gain the Republican nomination this year the moment Astorino announces, since he has no desire to engage in a primary.

“If he announces, I wish him luck,” he said on Friday.

A Trump spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

email: rmccarthy@buffnews.com

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