ALBANY -- Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino isn't saying officially yet that he is running for governor, but the Republican is making it official when it comes to asking for campaign donations.
Here's the letter he sent out this afternoon to would-be supporters:
Thank you for your support. My reelection campaign last fall was a tremendous success. They said we'd be a four-year "accident," but instead we were reelected by a large margin because we kept our promises to the people of Westchester and told them the truth about why we needed to fix county government.
During my first term as county executive, my administration made the tough decisions necessary to right our county's economy. We reduced overall county spending by 5.2%, cut the bloated county workforce by 14% and required, for the first time ever, employee contributions to health care. While the focus of my first term was the county's financial wellness, we also protected the essential services offered to our residents who need our continued help.
On Nov. 5, 2013, the voters demonstrated their support of these difficult decisions by re-electing me by a wide margin to a second term. Now I'm being encouraged to take on a greater challenge. New York State is losing under our current governor, and we must take action before it is too late.
Mr. Cuomo, with his finger perpetually in the breeze, tries to be all things to all people. The plain truth is Mr. Cuomo won't make difficult decisions. His most recent budget is built on false assumptions, borrowed money, and funds he has literally seized from the private sector -- like his $1.75 billion raid on the state insurance fund. This money -- premiums paid by private businesses for workers' compensation coverage -- has been taken by Mr. Cuomo to balance his budget.
As I go around the state, I am hearing the same message from people everywhere: We can't afford to remain dead last in business climate among states and succeed. One of my first challenges as county executive was working closely with PepsiCo to keep their headquarters in the county. Like many companies in New York State, they were ready to pack up and go. After many meetings, PepsiCo not only decided to stay, but they doubled down and are building a larger facility offering even more opportunity and employment in the county. Westchester's unemployment rate of 5.5% is one of the lowest in New York State. We cannot be the state that people and businesses are fleeing from and pretend that we're building a better future for our children. Growth and progress cannot be faked.
I know the hurdles, money being a big one, but also the conventional wisdom that says YOU can't win in this state. Well, that is exactly what they told us in Westchester, and we proved them wrong, twice. With your help we put aside any doubt that a leader who makes tough decisions that are in the best interest of their constituents can be successful. Now let's bring that message statewide. Will you join me again in proving them wrong?
I need to show that we have the backing to make this a successful and winning race. It is no secret that the governor is well-funded, but I believe there is a place here for everyone, and I need your support. Please consider contributing $25, $50, $100, $500, $1,000 or as generously as you can afford by clicking here. Thank you for all of your past support.
I realize I wouldn't have this opportunity without you and I look forward to what lies ahead.
Erie County Democratic Chairman Jeremy J. Zellner said Tuesday it may be March before a candidate to replace Lynn M. Marinelli in the County Legislature is chosen.
Following a presentation by nine interested candidates to party leaders Monday evening in Democratic Headquarters, Zellner said nobody has yet emerged as a leading candidate. He described the situation as "gridlock."
"Nobody controls this endorsement," he said. "There is going to have to be a consensus to put this together."
He said some party leaders suggest leaving the seat vacant, while others suggest submitting three names to be chosen by the Democratic members of the Legislature.
"I don't see that happening," he said.
While Zellner and other party leaders hoped the Monday meeting would produce a choice to be approved by legislative Democrats on Feb. 20, he said he now does not envision a decision until March.
Democratic leaders in New York's 27th Congressional District are discussing a congressional candidacy with a Buffalo police officer and attorney who is contemplating a challenge to Republican Chris Collins of Clarence.
James O'Donnell, 28, of Orchard Park is emerging as the only serious candidate willing to wage the underdog campaign against Collins, according to Erie County Democratic Chairman Jeremy J. Zellner.
"I haven't talked to anyone else," Zellner said Tuesday. "But he seems very sincere and interested in helping the community."
O'Donnell was not available Tuesday afternoon. But Zellner said the University at Buffalo graduate (undergraduate and law school) attended a Genesee County Democratic event on Saturday and has been contacting the seven party leaders throughout the district.
The chairman acknowledged that while candidates "are not knocking down my doors" to run against the well-financed Collins in the state's most Republican congressional district, a decision on a Democratic candidate must be made soon, with March 4 being the date for beginning to circulate designating petitions. He also said any potential problems involving the candidacy of a police officer and the federal Hatch Act must still be investigated.
There's continuing debate over Peace Bridge issues in City Hall. The News' Jill Terreri also talks with Brian Meyer about claims that a top city fire official abused a criminal background check system:
Nine candidates expressing interest in the County Legislature seat recently vacated by veteran Democrat Lynn M. Marinelli are slated to appear Monday evening before Democratic officials, who are expected to recommend a new legislator no sooner than the body's Feb. 20 meeting.
Erie County Democratic Chairman Jeremy J. Zellner said he is not committed to any one of the prospective legislators. He also said he does not believe any one candidate has yet secured enough votes to guarantee a recommendation to be submitted to the Legislature's four Democrats.
The candidates are Christopher Becker, Jennifer L. Diagostino, Joel P. Feroleto, Michele M. Iannello, Patrick Mang, Jason M. McCarthy, Patrick J. Ruffino, Peter J. Savage III, and Amber A. Small.
Various candidates bring their own constituencies, however. Savage, for example, is a deputy corporation counsel for the City of Buffalo who is close to Mayor Byron W. Brown, while Iannello is a former legislator married to Democratic Elections Commissiner Dennis E. Ward, a close Zellner ally.
McCarthy, meanwhile, is a member of the Buffalo Board of Education, while Mang is mayor of Kenmore.
Zellner said no timetable for filling the post has been set, though it may happen at the Legislature's Feb. 20 meeting.
A native of Schenectady, Robert J. McCarthy came to The Buffalo News in 1982 following a six-year stint at the Olean Times Herald. He is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and has been covering local, state and national politics since 1992.
Tom Precious joined The Buffalo News in 1997 as bureau chief at the state Capitol, where he covers everything from statewide politics and state government fiscal affairs to health care, environmental and municipal government matters. Prior to The News, he worked for news outlets in Albany and Washington, DC.
Jerry Zremski, The Buffalo News Washington bureau chief, has reported from the nation's capital since 1989 after joining The News as a business reporter in 1984. A graduate of Syracuse University, Zremski is a former Nieman fellow in journalism at Harvard University. In 2007, he served as president of the National Press Club.