Late last year the Republican response to who would run against the Cuomo juggernaut was “we will see if we can find someone with enough money to run”. Since that time no one with the resources has decided to take up as Chris Christie called “the lost cause”. But one man without the resources but the balls to take on Andrew Cuomo has emerged. Unless you live in the lower Hudson Valley you might not have heard of Rob Astorino.
So who is this David who has challenged the Goliath that is the Cuomo machine? Rob Astorino is a born and bred New Yorker who seems to like difficult challenges. His political career started in 1991 as a town councilman for Mount Pleasant. In 2003 he moved up to County Legislator in a race the local papers declared “raised the bar” for local races. In 2005 he unsuccessfully ran for County Executive against long term incumbent Andy Spano. Outspent by nearly four to one he lost by 30,000 votes. Undeterred and wiser he ran again in 2009. In a county that is 61% Democrat and outspent this time by 5 to 1, he defeated Spano by 15%. He defended that win by being reelected in 2013 by 12%.
Against long odds he has decided New York deserves better than the Cuomo dynasty. In town hall type meetings across New York he addresses the most pressing questions about his candidacy. In regards to Cuomo’s $33 million dollar war chest verses his $2.5 million he points to his County Executive race where money didn’t equal votes. He started that race with the same 37 point deficit in the polls. In that race he ignored his consultants who told him some areas never vote Republican. His reply was maybe they never met one and campaigned in Democratic strongholds.
In the next 100 days he will bring his message of change in liberal New York. Change from the high taxes, excessive regulations, and corruption that have dominated Albany for so long. He is building a coalition of gun owners against the Safe Act, Teachers against Common Core, businesses being driven out of New York and voters disenchanted with the promise of better governance from the Cuomo administration.
He admits he can’t win in New York City but if he can convince just 30% to cross over and a majority of the more conservative portions of the state he can win. As of right now Cuomo is avoiding the press and his opponent. As the Astorino campaign picks up momentum that will change. Expect to see ads highlighting Westchester County’s fight against HUD’s social experiment test case “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing”.(HUD) Don’t be surprised when environmental groups slam him for supporting fracking along with 31 other states. We can be sure supporters of Cuomo will point out the food vender for Westchester County airport contributed to Astorino but never mention contributions to his predecessor Spano.(Airport Concessions) It might be a little bit harder for the war on women mantra based on Astorino’s Catholicism since Cuomo is of the same faith.
There is no question Rob Astorino has a long uphill fight to become the next governor. He will be working to get his message out while Cuomo spends his time fundraising.His campaign has been helped by Cuomo’s missteps on the Moreland commission. He has to convince voters to ask is New York better off under Cuomo or do we need new leadership? Voters have to ask are we safer under the Safe Act, are our taxes fair, is corruption under control and does Albany have our best interests in mind? It is then he needs them to vote.