01 May 2014, 10:59 am by Jon Campbell
Rob Astorino is in the “final stages” of selecting a running make for his gubernatorial bid, but he declined to reveal any of the names he is considering.
Astorino, the Westchester County executive, has to make a decision quickly. The state Republican Party’s annual convention is slated for May 14 and 15 in Rye Brook.
“We are certainly in the final stages of this, and I’ve been looking over records and going in for discussions,” Astorino said Thursday on Albany’s WGDJ-AM. “So I think that’s going to be narrowed down real quick, and somebody will be picked.”
The Republican gubernatorial hopeful spoke to host Fred Dicker on Thursday to repeat his debate challenge to Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, which was spurred by a pair of television advertisements aired by the state Democratic Party criticizing Astorino’s handling of his county’s fair-housing settlement with the federal Housing and Urban Development Department.
Astorino’s battle with the federal government over the 2009 fair-housing settlement led the county to forfeit $5.2 million in federal grants last week after it forfeited more than $7 million last year.
“Who are you siding with? Because we asked you, Andrew Cuomo as governor, for help in our situation with the federal government, and you didn’t say a word or lift a finger,” Astorino said. “We’re assuming that you’re rooting for your old buddies at HUD instead of helping your neighbors, because you live in New Castle, which is one of the communities that the federal government claims is exclusionary and segregatory and discriminatory. So, if you feel that way, Andrew Cuomo, then you should move out of that town. If you still live there, tell us why.”
It’s the second time this month Cuomo has been challenged to a debate by a prominent Republican. Earlier this month, Cuomo declined to entertain a challenge from Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a potential presidential candidate who wanted to debate Cuomo on their respective economic policies.
By Robert J. McCarthy | News Political Reporter on May 3, 2014 – 11:44 AM
John Cahill, right, talks with, from left, Assemblywoman Jane Corwin, Assemblyman Ray Walter and Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard in Buffalo on Friday. John Hickey / Buffalo News
It’s been 20 years since a Republican won an election for attorney general in New York State.
But John P. Cahill, who is expected to officially declare within the next two weeks his Republican candidacy for the state’s top legal post, remembers all too well the days when the GOP reigned supreme. As a top aide to George E. Pataki during the former governor’s 12 years in Albany, Cahill found himself at the center of a string of Republican victories.
Now, despite the financial and party enrollment advantages enjoyed by incumbent Democrat Eric T. Schneiderman, Cahill is attempting the revive the state GOP’s long exile from a statewide post.
“The term ‘people’s lawyer’ was one Louie Lefkowitz used to use all the time,” Cahill said during a swing through Buffalo on Friday, referring to the longtime former attorney general. “He’s there to serve the interests of the people.
“I would be there with no political agenda and not seeking some higher office,” he added.
The Yonkers resident, who now shares a law practice with Pataki, once served as one of Albany’s top behind-the-scenes figures. He was the governor’s powerful chief of staff from 2002 to 2006, and oversaw much of the state’s rebuilding efforts in lower Manhattan following the terrorist attacks of 2001.
His most visible role was as commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation from 1997 to 2001, where he now says he gained vast experience in enforcing the state’s environmental laws, as well as implementing a $1.75 billion environmental bond act approved by the voters in 1996.
Friday, he breezed through Buffalo in preparation for the May 14-15 Republican State Convention in Rye Brook, where he is expected to join a ticket headed by gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino, the Westchester County executive. Cahill said he is ready to make a strong case for a challenge to Schneiderman because of what he considers a lack of action in key areas.
“I see the Attorney General’s Office and don’t see an impact it is capable of having,” he said.
Cahill listed three areas as his focus:
• Being “tough but fair” in dealing with business.
• Serving as an advocate for education.
• “Taking seriously” the responsibility of enforcing public integrity and rooting out official corruption.
A graduate of Fordham University and Pace University School of Law, Cahill says he will avoid former Attorney General Eliot L. Spitzer’s “sheriff of Wall Street” approach to regulating business. He acknowledged the special role the New York attorney general holds in supervising many aspects of the financial industry, but says the focus should be on creating a level and fair playing field. He will not shy away from taking on business when needed, he said, but will not pursue it for political purposes.
“AG should stand for attorney general, not ‘aspiring governor,’” he said.
The candidate also said he would strictly interpret the state constitutional requirement to provide children with the best education possible. That means advocacy for all schools, he said, including charter schools and pushing for educational tax credits for private schools.
“The AG should weigh in because he’s entrusted with a constitutional duty,” he said. “Parents and children should have a right to choose their education.”
And Cahill said he believes Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s Moreland Commission to Investigation Public Corruption would never have been necessary if the attorney general seriously pursued violations of public integrity.
He sees few results from the commission that Cuomo formed and then disbanded.
“It didn’t change anything; it was an opportunity unfulfilled,” he said. “We still have an underlying lack of confidence in government. That’s where the attorney general should step in.”
Cahill knows he faces a tough challenge in a state where Democrats vastly outnumber Republicans. But he said he believes he can make the case to enough Democrats and unaffiliated voters to vote for him, and that a Republican can still win in New York.
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Larry Levy, with the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University, says the ads are an example of a classic campaign tactic against a relatively unknown opponent. “To get out there with as much negative stuff as you can, to define him before he gets a chance to define himself or define you,” said Levy, who said the governor wants the first time most people hear about the Republican candidate to be in a “Cuomo ad”.
Astorino is fighting back with a web video, where he accuses the Democrats, and their leader Governor Cuomo, of playing the race card. “How dare you throw out the race card when you know it doesn’t apply?” Astorino asks in the video. “Have you no shame?”
Cuomo has not offered any comments on the dispute, which has led Astorino to accuse the governor of hiding behind surrogates. Cuomo, with his $33 million dollar war chest, has the advantage and the bigger megaphone… “Astorino is fighting like David with rocks against Goliath with spears and chariots,” Levy said.