WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. – Despite the misgivings and consternation of his political rivals, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino is expected to announce his gubernatorial run this week.
For weeks, Astorino, a Republican, has been mulling the decision, meeting with influential GOP leaders and securing political allies and donations. After meeting with his exploratory committee on Friday, he is expected to formally announce his challenge of Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo by midweek, possibly as early as Monday.
An Astorino run became all but certain when Daily Voice reported exclusively Feb. 13 that the same RobAstorino.com website used for Astorino's re-election campaign for county executive last fall was relaunched as "Rob Astorino for Governor" on Feb. 13, a month after Astorino publicly said he was "leaning" toward running for governor.
In response to Astorino’s expected run, Democratic Legislator Ken Jenkins (D-16), Peter Harckham (D-2) and County Clerk Tim Idoni launched www.whereisrob.com, claiming that the county executive spent 14 of the first 67 business days of his new term out of the county, beginning his quest toward Albany.
“It appears as if Rob Astorino has forgotten that his first responsibility is to the people of Westchester,” Harckham said about the launch of the website. “Instead of taking care of business in the county, he has been traveling to fundraisers and meeting with political groups around the state and country.”
Astorino may not be the only Republican chasing Cuomo’s seat. Real estate magnate Donald Trump, who has often teased about throwing his political hat into the ring, drew criticism from the county executive for his waffling and fanfare, calling it “circus stuff.”
Trump has been critical of his party-mate on social media, alleging he would dominate votes in a Republican primary.
“Internal polling shows that I would swamp @RobAstorino in a NY Republican primary 77 to 23 [percent]. Won’t run if party is not unified,” he tweeted.
A poll released by the Siena Research Institute in January – in which 808 voters were surveyed – said that Cuomo had a 50-point advantage in matchups against either of the Republicans. This lead in the polls has done nothing to slow the governor down, who allegedly spoke to GOP leaders in the state and warned them against nominating Astorino.
Another poll, conducted by Quinnipiac University, the Wall Street Journal, NBC and Marist College late last year, claimed Cuomo had a 65 to 23 percent lead over Astorino, who was in the preliminary stage of deciding whether to run, with 12 percent of the vote undecided.
Even with criticism being levied his way from both his opponents and members of his own party, Astorino has stood resolute, defending the work he has done and noting that even when he is out on the campaign trail, he still has his finger on the pulse of the county.
“I’m here, and doing everything I need to do to run this county,” he said last week. “Even when I’m not in the county, I stay in touch with the deputy county executive, the chief of staff, our commissioners and make the decisions that need to be made.”
Although nothing is official yet, it looks like a pair of Westchester residents will be squaring off against one another for a seat in the governor’s chair in November.