NY Senate Leader Sees Astorino Run for Governor

ALBANY (AP) -

New York’s Senate Republican leader said Monday that he believes Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino will run for governor and that incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo is vulnerable.

“I think Rob Astorino will be an excellent candidate,” Sen. Dean Skelos said. The Long Island senator also said he isn’t sure celebrity businessman Donald Trump is serious about running as Trump has suggested.

Asked whether he thinks incumbent Democrat Cuomo is vulnerable, Skelos said he is. “You know everybody’s vulnerable in politics,” he said.

The Astorino for Governor campaign committee was registered with the state Board of Elections last week and Astorino has said he’ll decide within the next several weeks.

Cuomo, who was elected in 2010, has strong poll numbers and a $33 million campaign war chest,

Trump, who Forbes estimates is worth $3.5 billion, has vowed that he’ll only run if the state’s Republican Party rallies behind him and he faces no challengers for the nomination.

Skelos said that he isn’t sure that Trump would be able to devote the time between his other interests to run for governor. “It’s a huge task to run statewide for governor,” he said.

Meanwhile, state Conservative Party Chairman Michael Long said Monday he doesn’t believe Trump will enter the race, while Astorino is moving himself into position to be the best candidate.

“If [Astorino] becomes an announced candidate, I said I’m sure my party leaders and myself would be ready to go to get onboard and have a unified ticket to run against Andrew Cuomo,” Long said, adding that he talked to Astorino over the weekend.

Concerning the incumbent Democrat’s vulnerability, Long recalled when Cuomo’s father, Gov. Mario Cuomo, was considered unbeatable in the early 1990s, and Republican state Sen. George Pataki beat him.

“I know what Cuomo’s numbers are, how much money he has in the bank. I also know New York state is headed in the wrong direction,” he said.

After analyzing voter turnout models, Astorino’s campaign believes the New York City suburbs would be the battleground, where he has shown the ability to attract support from registered Democrats and independents, said spokeswoman Jessica Proud.

“We feel, aside from number of issues the governor has failed on, if you break down the state there’s definitely a way to win,” Proud said.