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NY GOP Picks Marc Molinaro for Governor; Party Blasts Cuomo

Karen DeWitt

Republicans meeting at the state convention in New York City nominated Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro as their candidate for Governor Wednesday, and offered a scathing critique of Governor Andrew Cuomo, who is seeking a third term in office.

Marc Molinaro presented himself as an ordinary person, who grew up in a family that relied on food stamps to become mayor of his hometown of Tivoli at 19, and who now runs one of the state’s more populous counties.

I don't come from wealth or fame. I wasn't born into a political dynasty. I'm no film or television star,” Molinaro said. “I'm just an everyday New Yorker with a calling and some hard-earned know-how. I make no other claim.”

The 42 year old Molinaro says his years of experience in politics would aid him as governor, where he says he’d value efficiency and would get rid of any non performing state agencies and commissions. Molinaro says he plans to drastically cut property taxes and Medicaid costs, but will do so with care for others, saying the state needs a “strong safety net” and that he’s not “ceding compassion” to the Democrats or the  progressive Working Families Party.

He says he’ll also end “corporate welfare”, and the influence of big money campaign donors that he says occurs under  incumbent Governor Cuomo, saying “stakeholders in the Albany power and money game will spit their coffee” when they hear his plans.

“Albany will not be a cash-cow for the rich-and-powerful any longer. We will not be an ATM for out-of-touch politicians anymore. Not for the big money donors; not for politicians looking to dole out billion-dollar political favors. Not when I'm governor,” Molinaro told the cheering crowd. “ The pay-for-play schemes, this New York fire sale ends now.

Molinaro says he’ll demand a vote on limiting governors to just two terms in office. He said  Cynthia Nixon, the Working Families Party candidate and Democratic primary candidate for governor, “has decency”, and says he, like Nixon,  would create a Moreland Commission to  probe corruption in state government if he’s elected governor. Nixon pledged to appoint  an anti-corruption commission earlier this month.

Molinaro was introduced by former New York governor George Pataki, who was the last Republican to hold statewide office. 

Pataki says he too, was an obscure politician from the Hudson Valley in May of 1994. He people doubted that he would win, and three days before the election, he was 17 points behind in the polls. But he won anyway.

And just like in 1994, in November of 2018, you’re going to be saying ‘how did this happen’,” Pataki said. “ Well let me tell you how it happened. Because the people of New York know we need to change Albany.”

While Cuomo was mentioned frequently and condemned by speakers , including State GOP chair Ed Cox as corrupt and imperious, there were far fewer mentions of the highest ranking Republican in the nation and native New Yorker President Donald Trump. Molinaro has distanced himself from Trump , who remains popular among base Republicans but is reviled by many Democrats and independents in New York.

Credit Karen DeWitt / WXXI News

Pataki, speaking to reporters after his speech, says he does not think that will hurt Molinaro.

New Yorkers want somebody who’s going to be the governor of the state, and not somebody who looks first to Washington for direction,” Pataki said.

Trump was due to hold a fundraiser just blocks from the site of the Republican’s convention, but was not expected to visit the state GOP event.

Republicans chose Julie Killian for Lieutenant Governor. Taking an indirect shot at former Democratic Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who resigned after multiple women said he physically abused them, saying New York’s government must end sexual harassment and stop ignoring the complaints of victims.

“We live in a state where ethics are a punchline, where women are praised at the microphone then groped behind closed doors,” said Killian. “And ignored when they make the gut wrenching and sometimes career ending decision to speak out.”

Killian, who has a chemical engineering degree, most recently ran unsuccessfully for a special election for a state Senate seat in Westchester.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at