Though they campaign in one of the nation’s bluest states and saw their last gubernatorial candidate get clobbered, local Republicans said they are optimistic about their chances of roaring back across New York in 2014.
Anthony J. Casale of Cooperstown, a senior advisor to state GOP Chairman Ed Cox on public policy and legislative affairs, said New York Republicans are gaining momentum at a time that they are preparing for the next wave of elections in 2014.
The state’s top job — governor — will be up for grabs in the coming year. Casale said he is confident his party will field a competitive candidate to run against incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a first-term incumbent, former state attorney general and eldest son of former Gov. Mario Cuomo.
“I don’t think the Republican Party is moribund in this state,” said Casale, a former state assemblyman. “We’re very much alive and moving in the right direction.”
One potential challenger gaining popularity across the state with GOP activists, he said, is Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino. The 46-year-old Astorino enjoyed back-to-back election victories in his last two outings in a county known to usually tilt toward Democrats.
Astorino, who helped create the ESPN sports radio station in New York City, has yet to declare whether he will run for governor. Casale noted that Astorino even won the town of New Castle, where Cuomo resides in a house owned by his girlfriend, Food Channel star Sandra Lee.
Among other reasons for the fresh GOP optimism is the fact that the party now holds 14 out of the 18 county executive seats in the state and captured control of one of the Erie County legislature — representing one of New York’s most Democratic counties — in the most recent cycle.
Other bright spots include the fact that a GOP candidate, Rich David, was crowned the victor in the November race for mayor of Binghamton, and the fact that, locally, Otsego County Republicans expanded their dominance of the Board of Representatives this year, said Casale.