A day after Rob Astorino jumped into the race to challenge him, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he’s waiting to see who the Republican Party ultimately settles on.
When asked for his opinion of Astorino’s candidacy, Cuomo suggested the Westchester County executive may not be the GOP’s ultimate pick. He likened the situation to 2010, when former GOP congressman Rick Lazio was the first to announce, Democrat Steve Levy made an unsuccessful bid for the Republican nod and Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino ended up winning the nomination.
“So I learned, let them figure out who the Republican candidate is,” Cuomo said on “The Capitol Pressroom,” a public radio program. “Maybe it’s Mr. Donald Trump, who I heard says he’s running. Maybe it’s Mr. Carl Paladino again. That would be a redux race, the Cuomo-Paladino 2 in a series. Or maybe it’s Mr. Astorino. So we’ll see who the Republican candidate ends up being.”
Astorino officially launched his gubernatorial bid on Wednesday with a 6 1/2-minute video that criticized Cuomo for the state’s economy, his indecision on hydraulic fracturing and the state’s tough gun laws, among other policies.
He began a statewide tour on Thursday, repeating the themes of his announcement video in the Bronx. In the afternoon, he’ll head to Buffalo before making stops in Rochester, Syracuse and Albany on Friday.
“I’m going to have a conversation with everybody,” Astorino said in the Bronx. “Everybody in this state deserves an opportunity to be heard, even those who are here today who may not support me. I want people to understand what I stand for and how I will move this state in the right direction and get us in the winning column. Nobody will be excluded from this conversation.”
A NBC 4 New York/Wall Street Journal/Marist College poll released Thursday shows the ground Astorino has to make up. While Cuomo’s job-approval rating dropped to 42 percent, a low since taking office in 2011, he would beat Astorino in a hypothetical matchup by 40 percentage points.
The poll was conducted from Feb. 27 through March 3, before Astorino’s official announcement.
Cuomo said the economy in New York is improving, as evidenced by Thursday’s unemployment report, which showed the state unemployment rate dipped to its lowest level since December 2008.
“Facts matter, at the end of the day,” Cuomo said. “When it comes to jobs, for example, is the economy great? No. But is the state doing better? Yes. We have today, the state’s jobless rate dropped to 6.8 percent.”
(AP photo / Bebeto Matthews)