Have the state Republicans set up another candidate to fail? That question will likely be answered in a little more than three months when voters decide on the race for governor.
Challenger Rob Astorino, Westchester County executive, made a whirlwind trip through western New York last week. After stopping in Erie County, Astorino was at the opening of the Chautauqua County Fair on Monday.
In first impressions, Astorino seemed to say all the right things. "I get it, this economy is in bad shape and the business climate is terrible - one of the worst in the nation," he said. "It's going to get worse now that Andrew Cuomo has signed up with the radical (Mayor) Bill de Blasio agenda out of New York City; that is going to be awful and destructive for western New York ... You're the ones that will stop it. We're looking for a big win in Chautauqua and western New York."
Nearly four years ago, western New York voted overwhelmingly for the underdog: Carl Paladino. He upset Republican plans in a primary when he defeated retread Rick Lazio, but could not overcome the name and popularity of current Gov. Cuomo.
For his part, Cuomo has forgiven western New York. He has invested heavily to the tune of $1 billion in the region and Buffalo, leading many to believe the Queen City is on the cusp of a major comeback. He has even blessed Dunkirk with the 10-year repowering project of the NRG Energy Inc. plant.
His biggest opposition comes from those who dislike the SAFE Act, which was approved by the State Legislature while most residents were sleeping. Foes say the law undermines the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Meanwhile, Cuomo continues to tout the legislation, Astorino does not.
But the SAFE Act seems to have little ammunition when it comes to public opinion polls. Cuomo continues to maintain a hefty lead over his challenger.
Astorino's tune about the "economy in bad shape" will play well here, but it is unlikely to gain steam elsewhere. Most of New York has received much larger doses of optimism than our area has over the last four years.
Even with this past week's ethical questions about the Cuomo camp, Astorino has an uphill battle.
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