Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino said he was on the receiving end of a seating snub of gubernatorial proportions at the president’s speech in Tarrytown on Wednesday.
(Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino standing at President Barack Obama’s speech in Tarrytown on Wednesday. Photo by Theresa Juva.)
“(The White House) had reserved seats apparently for me in the front row,” Astorino said. “The next thing I know, I couldn’t get that ticket off StubHub, I was in the back.”
When asked what happened, Astorino said he didn’t know, but blamed the man whose job he’s hoping to take: Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
“All I’ve been told is the governor’s staff refused to allow us up front,” Astorino said. “So Ed Day and I watched from the back.”
Ed Day is the Rockland County executive and, like Astorino, a Republican.
(Astorino and Gov. Andrew Cuomo. File photos.)
Cuomo’s office has denied it meddled with the seating chart, but Phil Oliva, senior advisor to Astorino, said he saw Cuomo staffer Aimee Vargas interfere with a member of the White House team’s effort to find Astorino a place to sit.
“Absolutely. I saw it with my own eyes. It was a petty thing to do,” Oliva said, adding that the White House was “gracious and courteous.”
Earlier reports said Astorino’s camp had pegged the interference to Cuomo aide Larry Schwartz.
“Their second claim is just as untrue as their first claim,” Cuomo spokesman Matt Wing said. “When they get their stories straight, they should give us a call.”
An official who attended the speech said Astorino spent more than an hour talking with reporters before trying to claim a seat; by the time he did, the seats toward the front were all taken.
Other seats were available, the official said. Instead, Astorino chose to stand.
Gannett Albany correspondent Jon Campbell contributed to this report.