There are lots of reasons why U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook, should think twice about running for governor in 2018, when Gov. Andrew Cuomo will be completing his second term.
We believe that Gibson — who has said he won’t run for another term in the House of Representatives and has given indications that he is strongly considering a 2018 gubernatorial campaign — should think twice … then think a third time … and then go ahead and run for governor.
While it is far too early for this or any other newspaper to endorse in a race 3½ years away, Gibson is a good man, and by far the most politically attractive governor’s candidate New York Republicans have had since George Pataki won his third term in 2002.
As for all those reasons why a 2018 run for governor by Gibson could turn out to be quixotic, let’s start with the fact that no Republican has won statewide office in New York since Pataki 13 years ago. Democrats outnumber Republicans, 2-1, statewide, and the last GOP presidential candidate to carry New York was Ronald Reagan in 1984 — 31 years ago.
Gibson, should he obtain the Republican nomination, would almost certainly be facing Cuomo, who has already won two terms. Cuomo, whose campaign has already established a “Cuomo 2018” account, left little doubt last week when talking with reporters about a third term.
“I plan to stay as long as the people will have me,” he said.
And then there is the little matter of Gibson becoming the GOP standard-bearer.
Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, who held Cuomo to 54 percent of the vote last November (in most states, a healthy margin, but this is New York), has been making noises about desiring a rematch.
Astorino would most certainly attempt to paint Gibson as a flaming liberal, which wouldn’t hurt him much in a general election, but would be fatal to Gibson’s chances among the more-conservative voters who dominate Republican primaries. In 2012, Gibson’s record was the most liberal among House Republicans.
Another obstacle would be that Gibson’s views on gun control, Obamacare and abortion rights differ greatly from those of most New Yorkers.
But Gibson just might be capable of overcoming those obstacles, particularly if the state’s ethics problems that reduced Cuomo’s victory margin last year are still around in 2018.
In Gibson’s favor are his admirable record in the military, his reputation as someone devoted to his family, his overwhelming re-election in 2014 over an extremely well-funded Democratic opponent in a competitive district, and his opposition to the Common Core program and fracking.
If he were running in a presidential election year, we would be loath to encourage Gibson, who would be likely to be swamped by a large voter turnout in New York and other cities. But in an off-year election, you just never know.
Gibson would still be a longshot to win, but we would certainly like to see him try.