Fiery Republican Emerges as Likely Cuomo 2014 Foe

ALBANY -

With the latest poll showing the governor’s approval rating sinking slightly, a Republican state assemblyman announced he was considering taking on the popular Democrat in next year’s election.

Steve McLaughlin, an Albany assemblyman, denounced Gov. Andrew Cuomo as a “schoolyard bully” over the way he muscled through the state’s new gun control law in January, the Times-Union of Albany reported.

“It took 12 years for people to get sick of Mario Cuomo,” he said, “but upstate and, I think, on Long Island, people are already sick of Andrew Cuomo.”

But he conceded that defeating Cuomo, who is polling at 58 percent, would be a tall order.

“Could it be viewed as a David vs. Goliath? Yes — but David won,” McLaughlin said. “I’m not a wallflower.”

McLaughlin gained attention in the Republican party after he began denouncing Cuomo over the gun bill. He was criticized at the time for saying that “Hitler would be proud” of how the law was passed. He later apologized.

However, McLaughlin said that if he runs, it would be on a strictly economic message. He pointed to a survey released last month showing that New York ranks at 49 out of 50 states in business climate favorability.

“If you’re going to revitalize upstate, a two-day canoe trip isn’t going to do it,” he said, referencing a whitewater rafting competition the governor is sponsoring.

No other Republican has materialized as a candidate, due to Cuomo’s hefty campaign chest and formidable approval rating.

A Siena Research Institute poll released Monday showed Cuomo’s favorability slipping to 58 percent, the lowest since he took office. But while 52 percent said they would vote to reelect the governor, a majority of upstate respondents want him replaced.

The second-term lawmaker said he had spoken to GOP leaders around the state, but did not take any concrete steps yet, such as polling, staffing, or fundraising. State GOP Chairman Ed Cox recently said McLaughlin was on his “short list” of candidates.

McLaughlin’s biggest challenge will be to close the money gap — Cuomo reported $22.5 million in the bank, compared to McLaughlin’s $4,396 war chest.