Governor Andrew Cuomo is planning a vicious political attack against Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, the Republican nominee for Governor last year. The Governor has already recruited a well known political operative to manage the project.
At Cuomo’s urging, Joseph Ruggiero resigned as executive director of the New York State Bridge Authority and will run for Dutchess County executive this fall. He ran in 2007 and lost to Republican William Steinhaus.
Many Republicans want to see Molinaro challenge Cuomo in 2021, under new party leadership capable of funding a more robust media buy. Political operatives across the State believe that Molinaro would have won the governorship in 2019, if Chairman Ed Cox has been capable of fundraising.
The party didn’t place any ads on television — not even in Upstate media markets, where television airtime comes cheap, and conservative talk radio airtime comes even cheaper. Instead, Cox told the party donors to stand down and sit that cycle, with the consequence of sweeping losses in the State Senate that could shut the party out of the next reapportionment process.
The situation has shaken party stalwarts so badly, that few have remaining confidence in the State Chairman. Erie County Chairman Nick Langworthy, a young and energetic figure in the party, has announced that he will challenge Cox for the Chairmanship at a party convention later this year. Others have prodded Tony Gioia, the former United States Ambassador to Malta; Joel Giambra, the former Erie County Executive; and WABC’s Rita Cosby; to seek the post.
Molinaro is widely seen as a rising star in the Republican Party. He has honed the pragmatic brand of a Hudson Valley centrist and is often named as a congressional contender. Cuomo has openly expressed worry to staff that Molinaro may challenge him again for the governorship.
Molinaro was first elected to the County Executive’s Office in 2011 with 62% of the vote and was reelected in 2015 with 63% of the vote.