Astorino: ‘We will win this’

PERTH – Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino introduced himself Monday to Fulton County’s GOP leaders, telling them he has the ability to beat Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo and turn New York state around.

“We need your help,” said the Westchester County executive. “Be part of our team. We will win this.”

The 46-year-old Astorino was the featured speaker at the 30th Annual Fulton County Republican Chairman’s Club Dinner at the Raindancer Restaurant. A little more than 100 people attended the event, including Republican congressional candidates Matt Doheny and Elise Stefanik.

A Siena College poll released last week indicated Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has a 58 percent to 28 percent lead over Astorino.

“This is a state that has the highest taxes in America and it’s not even close,” Astorino told the GOP gathering. “We’ve lost 400,000 New Yorkers in the past four years. It’s the worst economic outlook in America. We’re losing jobs, we’re losing people. For the governor to take victory laps and say we’re doing well, that’s not what we’re all about.”

Astorino noted the Remington Outdoor Co. announced it was leaving New York state for Alabama, taking away 2,000 jobs.

In Westchester County, he said he was able to gain victory as executive of a county where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by a 2-1 ratio. He said he won by 13 points despite being told “you can’t win there.”

“I said the time is right, the issues are on our side and we’re going to give people a choice,” Astorino said.

He said he cut and froze property taxes, cut the county budget by $1 billion to help shave a $166 million deficit he inherited and helped create 30,000 new private-sector jobs in four years. He said that kind of “can-do” attitude can be implemented in Albany.

“It absolutely can be done in New York state,” Astorino said. “I’m here to tell you a conservative Republican can still win in New York state.”

Astorino said he has and will continue to spend time in ethnic neighborhoods. He said the Republican Party needs a coalition.

“That’s how this party is going to grow,” he said.

He asked local GOP leaders to help him win in November and “pronounce Andrew Cuomo’s career dead.”

Another featured speaker was Republican 21st Congressional District candidate Elise Stefanik, who said America needs to change its tax code and get rid of “job-killing” regulations such as Obamacare.

“We feel firsthand the challenges Rob was just talking about,” Stefanik said. “We need to encourage our best and brightest to stay here.”

Other speakers included Fulton County Republican Committee Chairwoman Susan McNeil, who stated, “Right now, it’s vital we get our Republican candidates elected.”

She said Stefanik received 800 signatures from Fulton County as the endorsed candidate for Congress in the June 24 federal election.

“This Rob Astorino is incredible,” said state Sen. Hugh T. Farley, R-Niskayuna. “He’s a winner. He stands up on all the issues. He’s got the governor very nervous.”

Farley asked Republicans to back all their candidates and campaign for them this year. He said the hope is the Democratic Senate will be Republican again.

“We are operating within a coalition in the Senate,” he said. “We’ve got to take back the Senate and we’re going to do it. This is a great year, and in every poll I’ve seen, it’s going to be a Republican year. The whole world is looking at us through tainted eyes. We’ve got to take back New York state.”

State Assemblyman Marc W. Butler, R-Newport, said he was aware he was “preaching to the choir,” but said Republicans can make a difference in 2014.

“We need to get behind the Republican candidates,” he said. “We need to take our country back. We need to take our government back.”

Earlier in the day, Astorino stopped at the Pine Tree Rifle Club in Johnstown, where he criticized the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act of 2013.