The State GOP is all in scrambles over who would become the Republican nominee to lose to Governor Andrew Cuomo in the fall.
As Donald Trump continues his dual flirting of a gubernatorial and presidential run, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino is gearing up for a serious challenge against Governor Andrew Cuomo, taking the first official step by opening an exploratory committee and tapping a state GOP operative to run it, according to Albany press.
On Monday, the Astorino campaign announced the hire of Michael Lawler, currently the executive director of the Republican State Committee, as a paid consultant to Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino.
Astorino also filed on Tuesday a statewide committee to run for governor as a Republican in the fall.
The committee isn’t “exploratory” in the sense of a presidential campaign, NY State Politics notes, but does allow Astorino to begin tapping into higher contribution levels should he formally enter the race. The new account allows him to accept as much as $41,100 per donor, a move that would allow him to start compiling case to compete with Gov. Cuomo’s $33 million campaign war chest.
Jessica Proud, a spokeswoman for Mr. Astorino, described the formation of the committee as an interim step, not a formal declaration that he was running. “He will make a final decision on the race in the next month or so,” Proud said.
State Republican Chairman Ed Cox told Capital Tonight he would try to avoid a primary this year for governor, rather designate the party’s preferred candidate at the May convention.
“Going to the convention let the 400-plus committeemen make a decision who they want to go forward and be the nominee,” Cox said in a Capital Tonight interview to air this evening. “After that, no primary.”
Cox added the party’s leadership has agreed the designee at the convention will go forward following a regional interview process.
“The designated candidate, we’ve all agreed, we had a committee meeting, all the 62 county chairs, an executive committee meeting, we all decided we’re going to have a process interviewing candidates on a regional basis going forward and no primary after our mid-May convention,” Cox said.
Meanwhile, as Carl Paladino threatens to challenge Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino on the Conservative Party line if Astorino doesn’t heed his call to support the ouster of Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos and Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, his name is being circulated as a possible GOP candidate for state comptroller, State of Politics reports.
Paladino confirmed he has been approached by a member of the state GOP about running for the office, but he isn’t interested – for now. “I rejected it, right now, because I’m focused on getting Donald Trump to run for governor,” Paladino said. “I’ll deal with everything else once Mr. Trump has made a decision.”
Speaking of Trump, things got a bit testy between the billionaire and state GOP Chairman Ed Cox last Friday at a private dinner following his appearance at an Erie County fundraiser, The Daily News reported.
Trump as he was leaving dressed down the Republican party chairman after he heard Cox saying how he believed the party has two good candidates for governor, sources at the dinner said.
That prompted Trump to openly press Cox as to why he was supporting the candidacy of Astorino and criticize him directly for not being able to win statewide races, the sources said. Cox, according to sources close to both Trump and the party chair, responded that Trump wasn’t in the race at the time. “Where were you?” he asked Trump, according to two sources.
To be continued…
(Jacob Kornbluh – YWN)