Marc Molinaro brings his campaign for governor to Cheektowaga Tuesday night – not only for a town hall meeting, but to also make a point.
The Republican candidate’s local supporters say they’re inviting anyone who wants to attend the 6 p.m. event at the Pvt. Leonard Post VFW Post, 2450 Walden Ave. They also are taking great pains to emphasize that anyone can contact Erie County Republican Headquarters for a ticket, contrasting the event with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s controlled access appearances around the state.
Indeed, county GOP Chairman Nicholas A. Langworthy delved into sarcasm to highlight the difference between Molinaro’s town hall affair and the governor’s scripted events that rarely feature give and take with the public.
“This is wide open,” Langworthy said. “It sounds absurd, doesn’t it?”
Molinaro, the Dutchess County executive, stops in Cheektowaga on Tuesday following similar town hall meetings held recently in Broome and Albany counties. Erie County Republicans are billing their free event as a “legitimate wide open forum,” offering the opportunity to “ask real questions and get real answers.”
Langworthy said Molinaro is ready to field questions from anyone attending, labeling the approach as the “antithesis of Andrew Cuomo.”
“The governor isn’t even taking questions from the media, let alone citizens,” he said.
The Buffalo News reported earlier this month that Cuomo’s visits have become rare as various corruption trials linked to his administration have proceeded. He has been in Buffalo only once – back on April 19 – since last November.
Still, comparisons to Cuomo’s official events may not prove appropriate because of security concerns. The governor’s State Police security detail – standard at his and other top state officials’ appearances – is assigned, while local police are usually stationed outside.
But his events are rarely advertised or the public encouraged to attend. One businessman familiar with Cuomo’s local events explained that he often receives an email invitation from the state’s Empire State Development Corp. or a call from its local officials. At the event, the governor then typically introduces an array of local electeds and officials of companies expanding and adding jobs as a result of state incentives.
Cuomo has also often staged even bigger programs at places like the University at Buffalo or Daemen College to highlight his annual budget initiatives. But the events are usually not announced beforehand, include staff processing invited guests, and are almost always held indoors or in controlled settings that exclude the possibility of protesters or disruption.
Questions from the audience of invited guests are not normally taken.
Cuomo’s office, in an email Monday, said: "This governor has spent the last 12 years serving the people of New York (as governor and attorney general) and working night and day to move this state forward. Interaction with the public is a key function of our government and this administration has made public outreach a priority.
"During the last year alone, the Executive Chamber has heard from, responded to and assisted more than 103,000 New Yorkers who have contacted us with an issue or concern. Conflating this with political events from those seeking to increase their name recognition is silly by even their standards."