Erie County Republican Party Chairman Nick Langworthy is a popular guy these days.
There’s a reason why: Erie County has more than 11 percent of the weighted vote in the GOP’s nominating process for statewide elections this year, based on Buffalo developer Carl Paladino’s success in western New York in the 2010 gubernatorial election.
Langworthy, on WGDJ-AM in Albany on Thursday, had good things to say about all three potential Republican gubernatorial candidates — Paladino, Westchester County Rob Astorino and celebrity billionaire Donald Trump. He’s hosted Trump and Astorino at Erie GOP fundraisers, most recently last week when Trump headlined one in suburban Buffalo.
But Langworthy said there’s “zero appetite” among Republican county leaders to have a primary, for governor or any other statewide office.
“A Republican primary — whether it was Rob Astorino and another candidate, or Donald Trump and Rob Astorino — it would be an incredible exercise in futility,” Langworthy said. “We would be wasting our time and our resources.”
Paladino emerged from a 2010 primary, besting party favorite Rick Lazio by a significant margin. He’s threatened to run on the Conservative Party line again in 2014 if the Republican candidate doesn’t denounce GOP leaders in the state Legislature.
Trump, meanwhile, has said he would only run if the party is 100 percent united behind him, and has said he won’t run if Astorino enters the race. Some have expressed skepticism that Trump actually would enter the fold, given his lengthy history of flirting with political office.
“He absolutely says that he would do it if we were 100 percent united,” Langworthy said of Trump. “I think he ultimately has to weigh a lot of factors before a final decision can be made. Just like Rob Astorino, he didn’t jump right out.”
Astorino headlined a December fundraiser for Langworthy’s count committee, and has been traveling the state attending fundraisers and meeting potential supporters and donors. He hasn’t formally announced a run for governor, but he did open an exploratory “Astorino for Governor” fundraising committee earlier this week.
“I think (Astorino) would be a terrific governor,” Langworthy told host Fred Dicker. “I think he’s setting the table for a very strong candidacy. I consider Rob a friend. I think he would certainly make this party proud and be a good standard bearer. I appreciate what he’s done in Westchester County, especially. But he’s in the final decision-making stages, as well. He hasn’t declared a formal candidacy yet.
Astorino is continuing to tour the state as he weighs a run. He’s scheduled to attend the Town of Poughkeepsie Republican Committee’s annual Lincoln Day Dinner on Feb. 20, according to the below invitation sent out by the state GOP: