Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino said he’s confident the Republican and Conservative parties will agree on a candidate to run for governor this year, even as former candidate Carl Paladino threatens a run of his own.
Astorino was in suburban Albany on Monday to speak at the Conservative Party’s annual political conference, where he criticized Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s economic record while touting his recent re-election in heavily Democratic Westchester County. The Republican has been publicly weighing a challenge to Cuomo.
His speech came a day after Paladino, a Buffalo businessman, delivered remarks of his own, again pledging to seek the Conservative line if Astorino doesn’t call for the ouster of current Republican leaders.
Speaking to reporters, Astorino said he was confident the GOP and Conservatives will ultimately agree on a candidate. A Republican hasn’t been elected to statewide office without the small-but-influential Conservative Party’s support since 1974.
“There’s going to be a at some point a unified ticket,” Astorino said. “There needs to be a unified ticket. This is not to go through the motions. This is to win a race and change the state around.”
Astorino again said he would decide by the end of February on whether to challenge Cuomo, a Democrat. But Paladino’s political aspirations could complicate the decision, since a Republican candidate hasn’t won statewide office without the Conservative Party’s support since 1974.
Paladino has touted the potential candidacy of celebrity developer Donald Trump, but has said he will attempt a run as a Conservative if the eventual Republican candidate doesn’t support the removal of Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos, R-Nassau County, and Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, R-Canandaigua, Ontario County.
Astorino said his decision will be made “independent of what anyone else does.”
“I wouldn’t jump into a pool blindly when there’s no water,” Astorino said. “I want to make sure there’s water in the pool, and that’s really what we’re doing.”
Here’s much of Astorino’s Q&A session with reporters: