By Joe Mahoney The Daily Star
The Daily Star
---- — Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, the state Republican Party’s presumptive nominee for governor this year, has accepted an invitation to be the keynote speaker at the Otsego County GOP’s annual spring dinner.
The $75-a-head dinner will be held at 7 p.m. May 15 at the The Otesaga in Cooperstown - the same day that the state GOP convention concludes in Rye Brook.
With nearly a month to go before the convention, the local Republican committee is already betting Astorino will be the party’s nominee that day. The invitation notes Astorino’s appearance in Cooperstown comes “fresh off his nomination as the Republican candidate for governor!”
Otesgo GOP Chairman Vince Casale said he is delighted that Astorino accepted the invite from the county organization.
“Coming out of the convention, he could have had his pick of any one of 62 counties in the state,” he said. “So we’re very happy to have him come here right out of the box.”
A series of statewide polls have shown that Gov. Andrew Cuomo, with much higher name recognition than Astorino, leads his challenger, a 46-year-old former radio producer and a married father of three children.
Astorino has been critical of Cuomo’s leadership, accusing the governor of failing to clean up Albany corruption and leading the charge for the controversial Common Core curriculum in public schools.
Astorino has also signaled he supports “responsible” natural gas drilling, while the Cuomo administration has delayed a decision on whether to issue permits for hydrofracking, choosing to wait for the completion of a public health study now more than a year old.
In Richfield Springs Monday, Rep. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook, said he supports Astorino’s candidacy.
Asked if he considers Astorino viable, Gibson said, “It’s a challenge for him to win, but I think it is possible.”
In a video launch of his campaign in March, Astorino stated: “I’m tired of listening to the fairy tale that everything is just great when it’s just the opposite. I’m tired of watching New York’s decline.”
Cuomo’s top political advisor in Albany, Joe Percoco, has left his state government job to oversee the governor’s campaign for re-election, the Wall Street Journal reported on its web site Monday afternoon.
Casale said numerous other local GOP candidates are expected to be at the dinner.
The party has not yet fielded a candidate to run against Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, though John Cahill, an attorney from Yonkers who served as chief of staff to former Gov. George Pataki has signaled that he is interested in running for that statewide office.