State GOP selects candidates for comptroller and attorney general

May 15, 2014

State Republicans have picked their candidate for comptroller, Onondaga County Comptroller Robert Antonacci. He will be the first statewide candidate in New York to rely on public financing to pay for his campaign.

Antonacci has been comptroller for Onondaga County, which includes Syracuse, since 2007, and says he would use his skills as a certified public accountant and attorney to scrutinize state spending by the governor and the legislature, and speak out when he sees waste.

Antonacci will be taking advantage of a pilot program for public campaign financing approved by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the legislature in the state budget.

“My family can’t self-finance a statewide elected race,” Antonacci said. “But for the campaign finance pilot program, I would not be in the race.”

That puts Antonacci at odds with the views of the state Senate's Republican leader, who’s said it’s a waste of the taxpayers money.

GOP Chairman Ed Cox, who says Antonacci is “the most qualified person ever to seek the office,” is not critical of Antonacci’s decision.

“That’s his personal choice,” Cox said.

Cox says the state’s pilot program is different than the New York City public matching donor system that Republicans have opposed.

The incumbent state comptroller, Tom DiNapoli, has said he won’t participate in the public campaign finance option because the program is badly flawed. Government reform groups agree with DiNapoli’s decision.

State Republicans also selected their candidate for attorney general. John Cahill was a top aide to former Gov. George Pataki.  

Cahill has been in private practice with Pataki for the past seven years. Cahill says he’s running because he misses public service and believes the current attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, has not been effective.

Cahill says he wants to do more to protect children at charter schools, who often come from the poorest families in the state, and says he sees it as “the civil rights issue of our time.”

Cahill, who has also served as the state’s environmental commissioner, says he believes the state should go forward with the controversial natural gas drilling process known as hydrofracking, but make sure that adequate protections are in place.

“It’s going to happen,” said Cahill, who said key watersheds like the New York City reservoirs and reservoirs in the Finger Lakes should be exempt from hydrofracking. “There’s going to have to be a rigorous oversight of the people who want to do this, but I do believe we can do it right.”

Cahill says he’d also like to do more to combat public corruption, and he criticizes Schneiderman for not speaking out  against a decision by Cuomo and the legislature to end a Moreland Commission corruption probe.