Two days after becoming the first Republican to announce a campaign to run for governor, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino spent Friday crisscrossing upstate New York from Rochester and Syracuse to Albany, and his message was the same in each city. He believes he can beat a popular Democrat in an election where Democrats hold an overwhelming voter registration advantage.
Astorino says he did it in Westchester County, where he has twice won the office of county executive.
“The answer was simple. Because we were taxing like crazy, we were spending like crazy. Our residents were fleeing Westchester. Our businesses were going to Connecticut or elsewhere, and that was unacceptable to me. So I ran on a very simple message: stop the tax madness. And I got elected by a 14 point margin in a deep blue county, home of the Clintons,” said Astorino.
On the steps of Syracuse City Hall, he criticized policies of Gov. Andrew Cuomo that he says are not business friendly. He had harsh words for one of the governor’s new programs, Start-up NY, that offers tax incentives for certain businesses.
“Only a particular type of industry can come in, in a particular type of place, that’s next to a SUNY campus, and then you got to have all these checkmarks on a big form to then maybe qualify for a tax break. That’s not what we need. That’s what’s wrong here. We should be making it friendly for everybody,” said Astorino.
Before he takes on Cuomo though, Astorino has to get the State Party endorsement. Donald Trump, who’s visiting Syracuse next week, is still talking about running for governor.
The party will decide on a candidate to support in June.