Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro is having second thoughts about running for Governor, sources close to the candidate suggest. Molinaro was expected to be the Republican nominee, following the suspension of Senator John DeFrancisco’s campaign early last month.
Molinaro is seen by the party’s foot soldiers as having “essentially voted for Hillary Clinton” following revelations that the party’s presumed standard bearer didn’t vote for the President, riling activists loyal to President Donald Trump. That he seemed to pride himself in his cold posture towards the President in public remarks in the week that followed was a source of much discontent among Republican activists.
Following days of chatter, Molinaro claimed to have voted for former Rep. Chris Gibson, who was not on the ballot. The whole scenario left many party operatives feeling taken aback, prompting some to take a deeper look at his tenure as County Executive.
A Quinnapiac University poll released late last month put Cuomo at 40%, Molinaro at 23%, and Cynthia Nixon at 20%, in three way general election matchup.
The prospect of Nixon ousting the Republicans from the State’s second ballot position has sparked panic throughout Party’s statewide organization, causing many to worry that the GOP will loose Board of Elections patronage jobs across the state.
The two highest vote getting parties in the gubernatorial election each control half of the jobs at each county’s Board of Elections office. Losing that largess would embolden the left’s Working Families line and would be devastating to the GOP’s ability to field statewide candidates.
Given the lack of enthusiasm among the base of the party, there is an emerging consensus that Molinaro is not a strong enough candidate. Others argue that the ‘blue wave’ of Democratic turnout that pundits expect this cycle would make it impossible for any Republican running in New York.
Skeptics of his candidacy argue that serving as the Republican County Executive of Dutchess County is one of the easier gigs in New York State politics. After all the county is largely rural and affluent with far fewer Medicaid eligible residents than a County like Kings or Erie.
Operatives are now openly discussing the possibility of a contested convention, openly speculating about potential replacement candidates for the ticket. Some self-described ‘Tea Party’ types have been suggesting that Carl Paladino would be a stronger candidate than Molinaro, pointing to the 33.5% of the vote that he earned in 2010 — despite viscous media attacks.
They argue that his ability to attract the media’s attention gives him a sense of celebrity that could sensationalize his candidacy — something that Molinaro has been incapable of doing. No other contender on the scene could leverage the same intensity of free media in the discourse with the same ability to excite and mobilize the base.
Even if he doesn’t win the governorship, Paladino would benefit from something of a come back — being able to assertively and unapologetically run for Governor — the media be damned.