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For Cuomo And Astorino, Focus Turns To November

Office of the Westchester County Executive

The primaries are over in New York and the focus now shifts to the general elections, which are a little over seven weeks away. Incumbent Governor Andrew Cuomo faces Republican challenger Rob Astorino.

Cuomo made a rare campaign style appearance in Buffalo with running mate Kathy Hochul just after winning the Democratic primary with 60 percent of the vote. Without mentioning him by name, he portrayed his Republican opponent Rob Astorino as a “hyper-conservative” out of touch with New Yorkers.

“The ideology we’re facing is what I’d call an ultra-conservative ideology,” Cuomo said. “It’s repugnant to what the people in this state believe.”

Cuomo lost nearly 40 percent of the Democratic primary vote to other candidates, with challenger Zephyr Teachout wining over one-third of the ballots cast. The governor portrays the dissenters as disgruntled state workers and members of the anti-fracking movement.

It was a low turn out event, with 10 percent of those eligible voting, Cuomo says that’s because his supporters weren’t interested in bothering to vote.

“They said they didn’t want to waste their time,” said Cuomo, who said his backers never thought he was in danger of losing.

But GOP challenger Astorino says the discontent is deeper than that, and he’s hoping to tap into it. He says Cuomo was “rebuked” by his own party, and is  welcoming Teachout supporters to his campaign.

“They are sick and tired of what’s happening in Albany, the corruption is rampant,” said Astorino. “It’s one of the main things that Zephyr Teachout ran on, and she was right.”

Cuomo’s office is being probed by the U.S. Attorney for possible interference in a state corruption investigation.

Astorino says he has twice won election to the Westchester County Executive’s seat in a Democratic dominated county, so Democratic voters have joined him before.  He dismisses Cuomo’s charges of ultra conservatism, as the governor’s attempt to paint him as the “bogeyman.”

Astorino has a steep uphill climb in the weeks ahead. He’s been running 30 points behind Cuomo in the polls, and has been outspent by the governor’s massive $35 million campaign war chest. Astorino does plan to spend at least one million of his $2.4 million on campaign ads in the coming weeks.

And, he’s pushing for multiple one on one debates with the incumbent governor.

“I’m ready,” he says. “Anytime he’s ready, I’d love to talk about my record.”

Cuomo, who did not debate his primary opponents, says he does now plan to participate in a debate forum soon.

“I believe we will have debates,” Cuomo said. “The campaigns have to work them out.”

Cuomo has not said whether he would agree to allow third party candidates to join in. Astorino says he prefers a one-on-one forum. In 2010, Cuomo appeared in just one debate with his GOP opponent and several minor party candidates.  

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