Molinaro Emerges on Top After Manhattan GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Forum

Molinaro Emerges on Top After Manhattan GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Forum

March 16, 2018 | by Samar Khurshid

Gotham Gazette

Weeks before he is set to officially launch his campaign for governor, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro has all but claimed the Republican nomination, and on Wednesday, he locked up another endorsement putting him closer to the goal.

At a gubernatorial candidate screening Wednesday night at the Metropolitan Republican Club in Manhattan, Molinaro emerged as the top choice of the Manhattan County Republicans over state Senator John DeFrancisco and Joseph Holland, a former aide to Governor George Pataki.

Over the course of about 90 minutes, one by one, the three candidates pitched their qualifications and their electability to a gathering of more than 100 Republicans. The crowd cheered, and jeered, as the three each took their jabs at Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio, both second-term Democrats, and presented their vision for governing New York State. Though few concrete policy prescriptions were aired, the gathering seemed pleased to hear each candidate variously criticize the Cuomo administration for how, as Holland said, it “over-taxes, over-spends, and over-regulates.”

Cuomo has said he is seeking a third term this year, and has more than $30 million in his campaign account. But, given several issues, including the upstate economy, the MTA subway crisis, and, on Tuesday, the corruption conviction of Cuomo’s former top aide and closest confidante, Joseph Percoco, Republicans see an opening to win the governorship for the first time since 2002.

On Wednesday night in Manhattan, each of the three candidates had roughly 20 minutes to demonstrate how they’d reach what Manhattan GOP Chair Andrea Catsimatidis called the “magic 30 percent number” of New York City voters who could give them enough votes to beat Cuomo. While the governor is less popular outside the city, he relies on the five boroughs for a significant portion of his ability to win statewide elections.

Molinaro, who spoke last, framed himself as a committed public servant who would work with his opponents across the aisle, and has no interest in political posturing. “I think that we are paralyzed in New York by elected officials all too often working to posture instead of trying to produce real results,” he said.

Speaking first was Holland, a Harlem minister who has previously served as state housing commissioner under the last Republican governor, George Pataki, has never been in elected office but pitched himself as the “most electable” of the three candidates. His appeal, he slowly and deliberately said, breaks down to three P’s: Profile. Proven. Power.

“It’s a profile that I have which is unique, it’s a proven track record as an experienced outsider, and then the power to win at the ballot box in November,” he told the audience. Holland spoke of his past -- which includes playing all-American football, founding and running a homeless shelter, a law degree, and a career in the real estate industry -- and recounted a previous failed run for state Senate. He mentioned his upstate roots in Auburn in Cayuga County, and his time working for both the executive chamber and the state Legislature in Albany.

“I’m an outsider with experience, and ladies and gentlemen, let me tell you, that’s what the electorate wants right now,” he said, referring to the election of Donald Trump as president. Noting that the party had never before nominated an African-American for governor, he promised a “fresh, bold, dynamic approach” that can forge a winning coalition of upstate and downstate voters.

In each candidate’s Q&A after their individual presentations, moderator Frederic Umane (the Republican Board of Elections Commissioner from Manhattan) asked how they’d raise the necessary funds to go against Cuomo’s $30 million war chest “without having to cook ziti,” in a reference to the preferred term for bribes used by Percoco and co-conspirators, as revealed through the federal corruption trial that just concluded.     

Holland admitted it would be a challenge, but said he’d tap his varied networks from his time at Cornell University, Harvard Law School, and his ties to the real estate industry. He pointed out, though, that “it’s more difficult until you’re the actual nominee.”

But when questioned on specific issues such as homelessness, the MTA, school safety, infrastructure projects, and public housing, Holland had few proposals. In each instance, he said he would work with the necessary stakeholders while avoiding the public spats that Cuomo has resorted to with de Blasio and others, and the open defiance of President Trump.

While Holland has no experience with public office, DeFrancisco, a Syracuse native, has served in the Legislature for more than 20 years. Armed with an acerbic wit and disinterest in political correctness, DeFrancisco took his turn at convincing the audience to support his candidacy. “I’ve had leadership positions in everything I’ve ever done,” he said, listing everything he’s done from being top of his class in high school and captain of his college baseball team to now, serving as deputy majority leader of the Senate. (DeFrancisco sought the position of majority leader in 2015 but lost that bid to current Majority Leader John Flanagan, who is among those to endorse the senator for governor.)

“President Lincoln once said that ‘If I had six hours to chop a tree, I’d use the first four hours to sharpen the axe.’ And my axe is sharpened and it’s directly aimed at our current governor, Andrew Cuomo,” DeFrancisco said.

Touting the 17 electoral victories over the course of his career, DeFrancisco said he could easily remain in the Senate for the foreseeable future. “But I find, as a legislator, you can only make changes along the edges. The real fundamental changes that have to be made, in my mind, only can come from the governor’s office,” he said.

DeFrancisco insisted that an earnest campaign based on building trust with voters could be successful. “Whether you’re from the far left, the far right, or in between, people don’t like the manner in which this person does’s a very personal campaign against Cuomo,” he said.

In response to queries from the audience, DeFrancisco did take some policy positions but did not advance many new ideas. He said he is in favor of fracking, against congestion pricing, and for a set-aside of a percentage of income taxes to fund the MTA. He opposes term limits for statewide elected officials and state legislators, and is against the Child Victims Act, which would extend the statute of limitations for victims of child abuse to make claims. He called for cuts to spending and streamlining bloat at state agencies.

DeFrancisco also expressed confidence that Cuomo’s campaign funds weren’t a threat to him but rather a liability for Cuomo himself, alluding to the governor’s heavy reliance on campaign finance loopholes that has allowed large sums of money to flow to him from entities doing business with the state (Yet another aspect of the Percoco trial.) The senator noted that he already has about $1.5 million for his campaign.

“You can’t just be Mr. Nice Guy and be able to compete with his money and the negative things he’s going to say about you or his surrogates are going to say about you without fighting back,” he said. Proudly referencing a New York Times articlefrom last year which referred to him as an “irascible straight shooter,” DeFrancisco said, “You couldn’t have a better contrast with an irascible straight shooter and a lying sack of you-know-what. That’s the race that you should have and I’m ready, willing, and able to do that.”

Last to speak but far from least was Molinaro, who charismatically sped through an almost bulleted list of positions he’s held, his accomplishments, and his reasons for running. The latest entrant into the race, Molinaro had just two months ago said he would not run, but as he explained Wednesday, he changed his tune after he received a flood of solicitations and endorsements from more than two dozen Republican county leaders and officials following Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb’s early exit from the race.

Those endorsements, including from Kolb, also mean that, coming into Wednesday night, Molinaro had already secured roughly 45 percent of the necessary votes he needs for the nomination from the Republican convention in May. Manhattan put him over 50 percent in terms of county chairs or delegations that have endorsed him -- while Molinaro is the clear frontrunner, votes still have to be taken at the convention.

“I have admittedly spent every day of my adult life in public service because I believe deeply in the responsibility to contribute to one’s community,” Molinaro said, hearkening back to when he was first elected at the age of 18 to the board of trustees for the Village of Tivoli on the banks of the Hudson River in Dutchess County. “Where I come from, you hold elected office because its an honor, it’s a duty, it’s a dignified responsibility,” he said.

Molinaro criticized the “new normal” of a pay-to-play culture in Albany and a state government that continues to “spend more than it can, tax more than it should and borrow to make up the difference.”

Emphasizing that the Republican Party can “breathe new fresh air into Albany,” he said he would work to empower state legislators if elected. Molinaro is a former member of the Assembly himself. He also said a successful campaign would have to be based on strong messaging that touches at the heart of issues affecting everyday New Yorkers, and by creating an extensive presence on the ground in communities.

“I think that our party has to assemble a ticket that reflects the complexion of New York, the people of New York. There needs to be a New York City voice,” he said. There has been no indication who Molinaro might seek as a lieutenant governor running mate.

Molinaro was also confident that he’d be able to elevate the importance of the Republican ticket beyond the confines of New York to bring in the funds that he needs to challenge Cuomo. “I have run for office for a while. I’ve always had competition. I have always raised enough to be competitive...I do believe I have the ability to nationalize this election,” he said. “I do, because I believe that our party wants candidates like us, to stand up nationally and say, ‘The Republican Party cares about people.’”

Asked how he’d approach working with Mayor de Blasio if elected, Molinaro insisted he’d rise above petty squabbles and wouldn’t seek to politically “outmaneuver” the mayor, as Cuomo has often tended to do with his fellow Democrat. (He did, however, smile cheekily as he said he’d work with anyone who is “honest and earnest,” clearly alluding to de Blasio’s checkered ethics record).

On the inevitable Trump question, Molinaro made no bones about supporting the president when he champions hard-working, middle-class Americans. But, he was clear that he disagreed with using the bully pulpit to belittle his opponents.

“You’ll always hear me say it the way I see it just like I think many people admire the way he says it the way he sees it,” Molinaro said.

Molinaro’s charm offensive was clearly effective. Within an hour after the forum, the Manhattan GOP’s executive committee had “overwhelmingly endorsed” his candidacy.

by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette

Posted on 15 Mar 2018, 13:46 - Category: 2018 Election

Marc Molinaro endorsed by Manhattan GOP in race for NY governor

Marc Molinaro endorsed by Manhattan GOP in race for NY governor

Robert Harding

Mar 15, 2018 Updated 4 hrs ago


The first New York City Republican committee to endorse Marc Molinaro for governor helped the front-runner for the GOP nomination to cross an important threshold. 

The Manhattan Republican Party's executive committee endorsed Molinaro, R-Red Hook, following a candidates screening Wednesday night. It is the 32nd GOP county chair or committee endorsement announced by Molinaro's campaign over the past week. 

With the Manhattan GOP's support, Molinaro now has endorsements representing 50.3 percent of the weighted vote at the convention. To win the nomination at the convention, a candidate must secure at least 50 percent of the vote. 

Marc Molinaro to formally launch campaign for NY governor in April

Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro has told Republican leaders he is a candidate for go…

It's possible that state committee members could support a candidate other than the individual endorsed by their county chair or committee. But voters traditionally are unified in their support of one candidate at the convention.

Andrea Catsimatidis, chairwoman of the Manhattan Republican Party, said Molinaro is the best candidate to challenge Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo. 

"This election is critical for New York state, we desperately need to strengthen our economy, create jobs and make New York more affordable," Catsimatidis said. "As a strong county executive, Marc has proven that he has what it takes to make New York great again." 

Molinaro's campaign announced another endorsement Thursday morning. The Otsego County Republican Party's executive committee endorsed the Dutchess County executive for governor. 

Joe Marmorato, vice chairman of the Otsego County Republican Committee, said Molinaro will "restore New York to the Empire State."

Molinaro emerged as the front-runner for the Republican nomination last week. He received several endorsements from county chairs across the state, including Erie County Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy and Suffolk County GOP Chairman John Jay LaValle. 

His closest competitor for the GOP gubernatorial nomination is state Sen. John DeFrancisco. DeFrancisco, R-DeWitt, has the support of 17 Republican county chairs representing 18.27 percent of the weighted vote. 

Joe Holland, an attorney and former Pataki administration official, is also in the race. He hasn't received any GOP county endorsements. 

The Republican convention will be held in May. The winner will likely face Cuomo, who is seeking a third term. 

Cuomo may have to fight for the Democratic nomination. Cynthia Nixon, an actress best known for her role on "Sex and the City," is exploring a run for governor. She would run in the Democratic primary against Cuomo. 

Terry Gipson, a Democrat and former state senator from Dutchess County, is already in the primary race. Ex-Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner may challenge Cuomo, too. 

Posted on 15 Mar 2018, 13:26 - Category: 2018 Election



By Zack Fink  |  March 14, 2018 @11:51 PM


If there is one thing that state Republicans seem to agree on lately, it's that they should avoid a divisive primary in September.

"I think, absolutely, it would be better to avoid a primary. We have to unify behind a candidate," Manhattan Republican Chair Andrea Catsimatidis said. "I think all three candidates are fantastic, and it has to be a referendum on Gov. Cuomo, and the sooner we get behind somebody, the better."

The three declared GOP candidates for governor made their case to Manhattan Republicans on Wednesday night. State Sen. John DeFrancisco said he is in the best position to take on Cuomo.

"The New York Times, the hotbed of conservative publications, referred to me when I first got into this race as an irascible — I am — irascible straight shooter," DeFrancisco said to the crowd. "Now, contrast that. You couldn't have a better contrast, with an irascible straight shooter and a lying sack of you-know-what."

Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro only recently entered the race after saying he wouldn't run in January. Molinaro, who is racking up endorsements from Republican County chairs across the state, was asked about how he would treat New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who constantly battles with Cuomo.

"There are going to be days that the city of New York doesn't need a governor that's trying to outmaneuver the mayor. You're going to need that," Molinaro said. "When decisions need to be made not on how to belittle the other office holder, but rather how to problem-solve."

Joe Holland is also in the race, but has not secured any endorsements from county chairs.

"We can all agree that Andrew Cuomo has failed as governor of New York State," Holland said.

In the end, it was Molinaro who got the endorsement of the Manhattan Republicans. If all three candidates stay in the race, eventually the party must decide who to back. It will likely do so at the GOP Convention, which is in May.

Posted on 15 Mar 2018, 13:25 - Category: 2018 Election

Manhattan GOP Endorses Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro for Governor

Manhattan GOP Endorses Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro for Governor

Chair Catsimatidis: Marc has what it takes to beat Cuomo in November

The Executive Committee of the Manhattan Republican Party overwhelmingly voted to endorse Marc Molinaro for Governor on Wednesday evening at the Metropolitan Republican Club on East 83rd Street following a candidates screening. County GOP Chair Andrea Catsimatidis called Molinaro, "the best candidate to take on Andrew Cuomo." She continued, "this election is critical for New York State, we desperately need to strengthen our economy, create jobs and make New York more affordable. As a strong County Executive, Marc has proven that he has what it takes to make New York great again. Our county is proud to endorse his candidacy for Governor."  

Posted on 15 Mar 2018, 10:31 - Category: 2018 Election

NY State of Politics: Republicans To Meet Amid Unsettled Field

Republicans To Meet Amid Unsettled Field

MAR 1ST - 11:02 AM

Posted by Nick Reisman in 2018

New York Republican officials will meet Friday morning in Saratoga Springs, ostensibly to pick a candidate to back against Democratic U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

But the sub rosa topic de jour for committee officials and chairmen will be to clarify the unsettled field in the race for the gubernatorial primary.

On the paper, the frontrunner for the nomination is Sen. John DeFrancisco, a state lawmaker from Syracuse, who is better known and draws more support than the other declared candidates, former Erie County Executive Joel Giambra and Joe Holland, a former housing official in Gov. George Pataki’s administration.

But a potential challenge to DeFrancisco’s primacy in his bid for the GOP nomination could come from Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, who is now publicly reconsidering his announcement that he would not run statewide this year.

In an interview on Talk-1300 on Thursday, former Rep. Chris Gibson said he expected Molinaro to launch a campaign.

“We need to bring a sense of accountability and responsibility to Albany,” Gibson told Fred Dicker on his “Focus On The State Capitol” radio show. “I believe Marcus is going to do it.”

At the heart of the concerns over DeFrancisco has been his record in Albany and votes in favor of budgets submitted by Cuomo. Gibson, who dropped his own plans to run for governor, said Molinaro would be a candidate relatively unconnected to the Legislature (Molinaro is a former state Assembly lawmaker, who was elected county executive in 2010).

“If we want a clear contrast, someone who is not part of those votes, we need Marc Molinaro,” Gibson said. “He balances both youth and experience and vigor.”

Republican chairs, meanwhile, are expected to conduct an informal poll on their choice for governor.

Manhattan GOP Chairwoman Andrea Catsimatidis in an email to New York City Republicans said she was seeking their input before casting a vote.

“I believe it is my duty to represent you, my Manhattan Republican constituents, which is why I want to ask your opinions before I cast my vote,” she wrote in an email sent Thursday morning.

Republican Chairman Ed Cox, meanwhile, sought to steer clear of the controversy surrounding the Republican gubernatorial slate. Speaking with Dicker, Cox insisted enough time was left between now and the Republican convention in May to settle on a nominee.

“My role is to make sure all qualified candidates get out there and make their case and it’s up to the members of the committee to make their choice,” Cox said, adding, “It’s great to see this kind of back and forth. We want to find the best candidate.”

Posted on 04 Mar 2018, 16:11 - Category: 2018 Election

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