By William Lewis
The statewide race for governor this year seems to be taking shape. Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, who threw his hat into the ring Wednesday on the Republican side, seems to be gaining support.
Donald Trump has indicated he wants to run for governor, but he does not want to get involved in an inter-party Republican primary against Astorino. Although Trump has large financial resources and considerable name recognition, he does not have any significant experience in state or federal government. He is also viewed as being controversial by some political leaders.
His controversies of the past could hurt the Republican slate of candidates this year. We could also add that he has had no direct experience campaigning for public office.
The Republican candidate for governor four years ago, Carl Paladino, has expressed some interest in running this year. Although he won the primary for governor in the last governor’s campaign, he did not do well in the general election against Andrew Cuomo in 2010. It is unlikely he could become a viable candidate this year.
The state Conservative Party is expected to play an important role in this year’s governor’s race.
The chairman of that party, Michael Long, has come out strongly in favor of supporting Astorino. He indicated in an interview that Astorino raised a huge amount of funds in his landslide victory for re-election last year.
Long believes Astorino is the right person to be the candidate for governor against Cuomo from the standpoint that he is a good administrator. He favors economic business enterprises strongly and is generally opposed to tax increases.
Long hopes Trump will not run for governor and instead support Astorino.
He also indicated that Astorino can raise huge sums of money this year, more so than most candidates.
Long said that he thinks the two most important issues in the governor’s race this year are jobs and taxation. He thinks Astorino will bring more private sector jobs to our citizens and will not raise taxes.
Long further said he believes Astorino has a chance of winning against Cuomo. He intends for the Conservative Party to get actively involved in this race.
When I asked Long his views of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s first seven weeks in office, he indicated that de Blasio seems to still be campaigning from the way he acts. Long said it is time for him to be governing, not campaigning.
Long also criticized the mayor for his constant lateness at speaking events. Long said we should continue to keep the horses and carriages in Central Park. He said it is a tradition in New York City.
We will see how this all plays out in the months ahead. If the contest does become Cuomo vs. Astorino, both candidates have certain advantages. Cuomo has, of course, name recognition from having served a term as governor in addition to his father having served three terms as governor. His ability to raise money is well known since at this time he is believed to have raised at least $33 million.
As for Astorino, he presides as county executive over one of the richest counties in the nation. He has proven his ability to raise large sums of money, although not to the extent Cuomo has.
Astorino in winning a landslide victory for re-election last year proved his ability as a candidate.
There had been some speculation that attorney Wendy Long, who ran as the Republican and Conservative candidate for U.S. Senate in 2012, might be a candidate for lieutenant governor. She has recently indicated that she will not be running for office this year, although she may run again in the future.
At any rate, it will be an interesting year politically.