THE EDITORIAL BOARD
If former Seneca Nation President Robert Odawi Porter decides to run for Governor next year, his campaign and governorship would be likely to benefit Western New York. Porter — a Harvard educated attorney with a renowned international law firm and a tenured Syracuse University professor — is a substantive candidate who has the stature and gravitas that one would expect of the head of a sovereign government.
A Governor from Salamanca would be an extraordinary opportunity to advance the region’s economic interests. While Governor Andrew Cuomo has been laudably attentive to the economic revival of the region, a Republican gubernatorial challenger from Upstate would rightly pressure Cuomo to be increasingly supportive.
Porter’s extensive professional network would position him strongly in any contest. Political operatives believe that Porter could easily raise $20 million from Indian gaming and tobacco interests alone.
Western New York’s business community would be unlikely to back Porter’s candidacy loudly. Doing so would risk too much in the context of gubernatorially-controlled economic development. They would however contribute generously to Porter, as quietly as they can manage.
Porter is a familiar presence who is widely seen as an honest, forthright, sophisticated leader with the intellectual heft to navigate the special interests of Albany in a genial, less corrupt, more mature style than of late. Buffalo’s business community knows well that they would be among those benefiting most from a Porter governorship.
Porter’s affable personality and approachable style will make him a strong fundraiser, but most of his campaign contributions are likely to come from Downstate where the Party’s traditional donor base is ripe to be harvested. Porter’s ivy league style and compelling narrative is conducive to the donor appetites of Montauk and Scarsdale.
Despite Governor Cuomo’s unprecedented commitment to Western New York, Rob Porter’s candidacy would keep the region central to the State’s politics. That’s good anyway you slice it.