Rob Astorino, county executive of Westchester County, announced today he’ll be running for governor as a Republican in New York State, against incumbent Andrew Cuomo. He did so in a video message featuring some non–New York locales: “Huntsville, Alabama’s an unusual place to announce a candidacy for governor of New York. So’s Florida. Texas. Or even North Dakota. But these are the places where the jobs are going, the ones that used to be in New York. This is where New Yorkers are moving to escape the crazy cost of living and killer property taxes.”
Astorino criticizes Cuomo for spending millions of taxpayer dollars on an ad campaign ostensibly aimed at promoting business investment in New York, but which some argue has looked like a campaign to boost the governor’s popularity. The Westchester County executive has an uphill battle: Cuomo has a $33 million war chest and a commanding lead in prospective polls, but his plan is to highlight New York State’s anemic economy, the number of residents fleeing the state, Cuomo’s ambivalence on hydrofracking in depressed areas (which has revived local economies just across the border in Pennsylvania), and more.
He’s certainly familiar with trying to appeal to a Democratic-heavy electorate. I wrote about Astorino’s success as county executive in deep-blue Westchester back in 2011 — he’s fought to trim a massive county government and reduce one of America’s highest local tax burdens. He won reelection in 2013, beating his Democratic challenger by about ten points in a county that President Obama won by more than 20 points in 2012.