After a convincing victory last night, Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino will be at or near the top of any short list to challenge Gov. Andrew Cuomo next year.
But Astorino wouldn’t say today whether he’s contemplating a run against the Democratic governor, who will be seeking a second term.
“I think it’s really interesting and flattering that my name is actually considered for something like that,” Astorino said in a telephone interview with Gannett’s Albany Bureau. “But I just won a very tough race in a very challenging county with a lot of problems I still have to solve here. Right now, it’s one day at a time.”
Astorino won a second term 55 percent to 45 percent over Democrat Noam Bramson, who Cuomo endorsed. The race was never in doubt as the results trickled in, and Bramson conceded early in the night.
Although Astorino won’t discuss his potential next move, he already plans to raise his profile.
He’s taking a vacation with the family this week and stopping at the Somos El Futuro conference in Puerto Rico — a key stop for any New York politician with future ambitions.
Astorino said he will be more active across the state in pushing for mandate relief for local governments. In July he made an upstate swing to raise money and discuss local issues with municipal leaders.
Astorino knocked Cuomo and the state Legislature for not doing more to help municipalities.
“Hopefully, the Legislature and the governor are watching the returns and realizing that things are still out of control in Albany and people are starting to realize why and who’s to blame,” Astorino said.
When asked who is to blame, he responded: “Everybody. They are all part of it. The governor’s got to be more bold and really propose mandate relief that will have a major difference on the local level, and the Legislature has to be willing to go along and step out of their comfort zone — which is to do nothing or to spend more.”
Cuomo has touted mandate relief measures, such as a new pension tier and a state takeover of the growth in Medicaid costs.
Still, Astorino said his victory showed that Democrats can’t run on a national platform in a local race. The race had veered into issues of abortion and gun rights.
“What we’ve seen is that Democrats are willing to cross part lines on issues that matter,” Astorino said. “Taxes and spending and making the economy better matter. And that resonated. All this tired playbook as labeling Republicans ‘extremists,’ it just didn’t work.”