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March 5, 2014

Republican Astorino announces candidacy for governor

In a contest billed by his own party as a David vs. Goliath affair, Rob Astorino, the Republican Westchester County executive, declared his candidacy for governor today and immediately spotlighted the state's sluggish business climate.
 
In a video announcing his campaign, the 46-year-old former radio industry executive declared that many New Yorkers are fleeing the state to "escape the crazy cost of living and killer property taxes."
 
Astorino said he is running for governor "because I'm tired of listening to the fairy tale that everything is just great when it's just the opposite."
 
An advocate for opening New York to "responsible" natural gas drilling, Astorino cited states such as Florida and North Dakota as beacons of growth.
 
The hydrofacking issue looms as a significant issue this year as Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said a decision on whether New York will go forward with the controversial drilling technique will be made after state Health Commission Nirav Shah evaluates the health impacts from harvesting gas trapped under layers of shale. Shah has said he has no timetable for completing his study.
 
Last week, Astorino opened up a direct attack on Gov. Andrew Cuomo, accusing the Democratic incumbent of "playing politics" with the shale gas issue for "all the wrong reasons."
 
While Cuomo, 56, has a $33 million campaign warchest at his disposal in a state where Democrats enjoy a 2-1 enrollment edge over the GOP,  Republicans said they believe that Astorino has honed a strong message that will resonate with voters in November.
 
"A lot of us disagree with the notion that Cuomo is totally unbeatable," said Anthony J. Casale of Cooperstown, a former state assemblyman who is now a senior adviser to the state GOP.
 
What makes Cuomo vulnerable, he said, is the state's slow job growth, public dissatsfaction with the Common Core school program, the controversial weapons legislation known as the SAFE Act and a recent push to allow incarcerated felons to take college courses at taxpayer expense. get 
 
"He's also engaged in class warfare with his buddy (New York City Mayor Bill) de Blasio," Casale said. "He can't control his own party and his own people."
 
But Richard Abbate, the chairman of Otsego County Democfratic Party, said he sees no reason why the electorate would want to get rid of Cuomo.
 
"The Republicans are fishing for straws," he said. "Our governor has done aan extremely effective job as leader. He has produced three consecutive balanced budgets, and he's created jobs with the Start Up New York program, and is changing this state in  a positive way. "
 
Abbate also contended that most voters support Cuomo for closely scrutinizing the potential health impacts of fracking rather than move forward in a way that could endanger supplies of drinking water.
 
In order to become a more competitive candidate, according to political insiders, Astorino will have to make himself more familiar to New York voters. More than 70 percent of the state's voters do not know who he is or have no opinion on him, according to a  poll released last week by Siena College.
 
Responding to questions about Astorino's announcement today, the state Legislature's top Democrat, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, misstated the GOP candidate's first name. "I really don't know Bob Astorino, so I can't tell you," Silver was quoted as saying.
 
The GOP's failed candidate from 2010, Buffalo businessman Carl Palladino, has said he is also considering another run for governor. Another possible candidate, New York City real estate mogul Donald Trump, has said he would only run if he had a clear field in the Republican primary. Astorino's announcement woulds appear to negate that possibility. 

 

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