ALBANY – Marc Molinaro recalls with fanfare Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s 2010 campaign in which he talked about revitalizing a state government hit with scandal after scandal.
“We expected a new day. Instead, we got a new normal," Molinaro said Monday as he launched his Republican Party campaign to try to unseat Cuomo this fall after his two terms in office.
Molinaro, 42, the Dutchess County Executive, kicked off his campaign with a speech in his tiny hometown of Tivoli, a Hudson River community in the northern part of the county.
He joins state Sen. John DeFrancisco, a Syracuse area lawmaker, in the fight for the GOP nomination.
As they have been doing for months, Democrats sought to punch at Molinaro via the nation’s top elected Republican: President Trump, whose popularity in his home state of New York continues to drag.
“Whether it’s Molinaro or DeFrancisco, it’s clear that the New York GOP is intent on pushing an ultra-conservative Trump agenda," said Geoff Berman, executive director of the state Democratic Party. He said either of the two Republicans “will be an unacceptable choice for New Yorkers."
In an interview on his way between his hometown announcement and a stop in Albany, Molinaro made clear that the exodus of New Yorkers and Albany’s ethical run-ins will be prime issues he will use against Cuomo.
Molinaro said the state has become a less affordable place in which to reside and pay-to-play politics in state government is still alive – an issue that will be front and center in the trial expected to start in June of the Buffalo Billion corruption case defendants. The race’s entry by Molinaro, 42, comes after the recent bribery conviction of Joseph Percoco, the longtime confidante to Cuomo who was found guilty in a case in which he was accused of using the power of his ties to Cuomo to enrich himself by doing favors for companies with business before the state.
“Some people might fight it corny … but as a local government official and a young person in elected office, I learned first-hand the value of public office. I want to change the tone and tenor of Albany," he said.
The Republican said New Yorkers “should have faith that government is acting appropriately." He said Cuomo leads by confrontation and pitting groups and people against one another.
“I’m asking New Yorkers to believe again," he said.
Molinaro, who has a community college degree, has been in government for much of his life. At age 18, he was elected mayor of his hometown village. He then went on to the Dutchess County Legislature and served two terms in the state Assembly, where, as a Republican in the New York City and Democratic-dominated 150-member chamber, he held no influence over fiscal and policy matters.
But his time in Albany gave him a seat from which to view the system of governing at the Capitol, which during the past week of intense negotiations over the budget is among the most secretive periods of the year.
Beyond highlighting corruption scandals that have not slowed, Molinaro said that still-lagging upstate economy will be among the themes he will use to make his case against Cuomo. “I hear it because I’ve lived it," Molinaro said of growing up in a household that relied on foot stamps for a time.
“There are far too many families, farmers and businesses across New York, particularly upstate, who know the reality, and while they haven’t given up on New York, are desperate for real relief for elected officials who realize that we have to drive down the costs (of government)," said Molinaro, who is married and has three children.