Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino on Wednesday gave his strongest indication to date of his future political plans, telling a Binghamton radio show that he’s “leaning towards” challenging Gov. Andrew Cuomo this year.
In an interview with WNBF-AM, Astorino said Cuomo, a Democrat, has been “unchallenged” through his first three years in office. Astorino said voters would have an “interesting choice” once people hear his vision for the state.
When asked whether he was leaning toward a run, Astorino said he was.
“I would say I’m leaning towards it,” said Astorino, a Republican. “But again, I want to go through the due diligence here and make sure the building blocks are there.”
Last week, Astorino said he was “50-50” on whether he would challenge Cuomo.
Astorino, a Republican elected to a second term in November, has been traveling the state as he publicly weighs a run. He was in Binghamton and Oswego County on Tuesday, and is meeting with potential campaign donors in Syracuse on Wednesday, spokeswoman Jessica Proud said.
On Tuesday, Astorino will attend a fundraiser for the state Republican Party in Albany, where he’ll be honored as a “Rising Star.” Another potential Republican candidate, celebrity billionaire Donald Trump, had briefly planned to attend the fundraiser as well, but declined after learning it was honoring Astorino.
“(Trump) feels it is inappropriate for him to attend and disrupt an evening devoted to Mr. Astorino – in his perspective, that’s not a classy move,” said political consultant Michael Caputo, who has been rallying support for Trump. “Instead, he is looking at other GOP events upstate.”
Astorino said his potential gubernatorial campaign would focus on a number of issues, from the state’s economy to public corruption at the Capitol to the Common Core, the stricter educational standards implemented by the state Education Department last school year.
“I deal with Common Core because I’m a parent,” Astorino said. “My fifth grader, my third grader — we deal with this every night. The rollout for Common Core has been disastrous, and Cuomo’s Common Core needs changes, absolutely.”