Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino plans to form an exploratory committee to run for governor — and he’s already facing criticism from groups for comments he made three years ago.
Astorino plans to formally submit paperwork to form the committee later this week, said spokeswoman Jessica Proud. She said the account with the Board of Elections that will allow him to raise money through the limits set for statewide office, rather than for county executive.
The exploratory committee is no surprise, but is another step for him as it appears increasingly likely that he’ll challenge Gov. Andrew Cuomo in November.
The committee plans to hire Michael Lawler, the executive director of the state GOP, to run the operation. The state GOP is headed by Ed Cox, who is a close ally of Astorino’s.
“County Executive Astorino continues to go through the process of weighing his candidacy and will be taking the step this week of filing an exploratory committee with the Board of Elections,” Proud said in a statement.
“He has appointed Michael Lawler to manage the committee. Michael is a talented and hardworking New York operative who will be a tremendous asset to this process. Rob remains committed to speaking with Republican and Conservative leaders, as well New Yorkers from across the state to discuss how to put New York back in the winning column. As he has said, he will make a final decision on the race in the next month or so.”
Astorino, a Republican in his second term, is taking hits today for comments he made three years ago.
Astorino said on Capitol Tonight that Medicaid recipients could eat soup if Medicaid doesn’t cover dentures.
Proud said the comment was a joke and meant to point out how New York spends by far the most in the nation on Medicaid, at more than $50 billion a year.
Some groups knocked him.
“The comments of Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino and his spokeswoman, unfortunately, undermine our efforts,” responded Kate Breslin, president of the Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy in Albany. “In this regard, Mr. Astorino’s belief that people can easily do without dentures is misinformed and callous. And, his spokeswoman’s suggestion that those comments were “a joke” adds insult to injury.”