Astorino, Cuomo looking for running mates


Jon Campbell

Albany Bureau

ALBANY — Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy’s decision this week not to seek re­election leaves both Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Re­publican challenger Rob Astorino searching for a running mate. Both will have to move fast: The state Republican Party will nominate its preferred candidate be­ginning Wednesday, with the Democrats following the week after. Astorino, the West­chester County execu­tive, and Cuomo are both looking for a candidate that can be an effective surrogate on the cam­paign trail while appeal­ing to voters they may have difficulty reaching otherwise.

But whom they pick likely will have little im­pact on the race itself, ac­cording to Siena College pollster Steve Greenberg.

“Virtually none,” he said. “People vote for gov­ernor. It’s not like you get a separate vote for lieu­tenant governor. They run as a ticket, and people vote for a governor.”

The lieutenant gover­nor position is one that has both attracted and frus­trated rising political fig­ures in New York. It car­ries the allure of a state­wide position, but comes with few official responsi­bilities.

In a letter to Cuomo earlier this week, Duffy cited the frequent travel as one reason for stepping down. Duffy, who suffers from back and leg pain, traveled to all corners of the state since taking of­fice in 2011, often to repre­sent Cuomo’s administra­tion at various events.

Neither Cuomo nor As­torino have publicly sig­naled whom they are con­sidering, though there has been speculation. Astorino, for example, attended a fundraiser for Dutchess County Execu­tive Marcus Molinaro on Thursday. Molinaro, also a Republican, was men­tioned as a possible guber­natorial candidate by state GOP Chairman Ed Cox last year. Neither Astorino nor Molinaro on Friday would address whether Molina­ro is under consideration.

“Respecting their se­lection process, I’m just not able to comment at this time,” Molinaro said in a text message. Astorino’s campaign has been careful to avoid discussing specific candi­dates that are being vet­ted. But in a radio inter­view earlier this week, Astorino did acknowledge considering Michael Bat­tle, a former U.S. Attor­ney from the Buffalo area.

Battle, however, did not meet the state’s mini­mum residency require­ment, Astorino said on Al­bany’s WGDJ-AM. In or­der to be governor or lieu­tenant governor, a candidate must have been a resident of New York for the five years preceding the election. Battle worked at a Washington D.C. law firm after work­ing for President George W. Bush’s administration.

Other Republicans have been approached by Astorino or members of the state GOP, but have declined. Among them are Assemblywoman Jane Corwin, R-Clarence, Erie County and Rensse­laer County Executive Kathleen Jimino.

When it comes to Cuo­mo’s decision, several po­tential candidates are from the western New York area, including Buf­falo Mayor Byron Brown and former Rep. Kathy Hochul, D-Williamsville, Erie County.

In a statement, Brown said he has a “very good relationship” with both Cuomo and Duffy.

“Ultimately any deci­sion regarding the next lieutenant governor will be made by the governor,” Brown said.

Cuomo also could have several potential candi­dates within his admini­stration. Among those currently heading state agencies for Cuomo are former Syracuse Mayor Matt Driscoll, former Ut­ica- area Assemblywoman RoAnn Destito and Cesar Perales, a one-time depu­ty mayor of New York City.

The vetting process for potential lieutenant gov­ernor candidates is impor­tant. If the running mate becomes embroiled in scandal, Greenberg said, it could have a significant negative impact on the gu­bernatorial candidate. “Could that have a neg­ative impact? Absolutely, because it reflects on the gubernatorial candidate as having made a particu­larly unwise choice,” he said. “And if the candidate makes an unwise choice there, who knows what kind of unwise choice they would make as gov­ernor.”

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  1. a12iggymom says:

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