ALBANY -- Republican Rob Astorino jumped into the race for governor Wednesday, saying he’ll challenge Democrat Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.
Astorino, the Westchester County executive, harshly criticized Cuomo in an online video announcement, saying the Democrat has been “dividing” New Yorkers. He accused the incumbent of painting a rosy and false picture of the state’s economic direction.
“I’m announcing my candidacy for governor of New York state because I’m tired of listening to a fairy tale that everything is just great when it’s just the opposite,” Astorino said in a six-minute video posted on his website Wednesday. “I’m tired of watching New York’s decline.”
Astorino, 46, has been a rising Republican star since scoring an upset in heavily Democratic Westchester in 2009, ousting incumbent Andrew Spano; he cruised to re-election last fall.
But Astorino will face longer odds in challenging Cuomo, who has $33 million stockpiled in his campaign coffers and enjoys a huge lead in the polls. The governor has said he expects to run for re-election, though he hasn’t officially declared his candidacy.
Further, it’s not certain yet whether Astorino will face competition on the right. Developer Donald Trump has dabbled with the idea of running as a Republican, though some leading Republicans have doubted whether Trump is serious.
In addition, Carl Paladino, the Republican Buffalo businessman whom Cuomo routed in 2010, has threatened to run on a minor-party line.
But top Republicans seem to be coalescing around Astorino.
“Goliath, meet David,” state Republican Chairman Ed Cox said in a statement, noting the Astorino’s underdog status as the campaign begins. “Rob Astorino has proven that a Republican can win in two-to-one Democratic New York. Rob has what it takes to reverse the decline of New York, not just try to manage it like our last three Democratic governors."
Astorino said “families, seniors and businesses” are leaving New York “in droves.” The Republican criticized Cuomo for promoting economic “gimmicks,” backing the controversial Common Core academic standards, proposing free college education for state-prison inmates and “demonizing” lawful gun owners. He said “New York is No. 1 in all the wrong things” under Cuomo.
He also touted his tenure in Westchester, contending he has lowered taxes and spending. He said that’s part of why Westchester “has a higher credit rating than the state itself.”
Asserting he can woo non-Democrats, Astorino said: “There’s a reason I've twice been elected by a 13-point margin in Westchester with the help of Democrats and independents. It’s because I’ve governed in a bi-partisan and inclusive manner and we’ve delivered the bold reforms, progress and results that we promised.”