2 state legislators mulling run for governor say defeating Cuomo is imperative in 2018

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 October 2017 at 9:16 am

Photos by Tom Rivers: John DeFrancisco, a state senator from Syracuse, speaks during Thursday’s Orleans County GOP Rally.

LYNDONVILLE – Two leaders of the Republican conference in the State Legislature are both considering a run for governor. Brian Kolb and John DeFrancisco are united in saying Andrew Cuomo must be defeated for a third term in 2018.

“We have to figure out who will go after the current governor, who definitely has to be replaced,” said Kolb, the Assembly minority leader.

Both Kolb and DeFrancisco spoke at the Orleans County Republican Rally on Thursday at the White Birch Golf Course. They both say the Republican Party needs a strong candidate who can topple Cuomo.

DeFrancisco, 70, is the Senate Majority Leader in Albany, the second in command. The Syracuse resident has nearly 30 years as a state legislator. He said he is willing to be the candidate. But if the party decides on someone else, he said Republicans need to unify with a focus on unseating Cuomo.

“The time is right,” DeFrancisco told more than 200 people at the White Birch. “It’s a question of getting the right candidate and getting the backing of the Republican Party.”

Cuomo would appear to heavily favored in the election. He has $25 million in his campaign warchest, and Democrats have a significant enrollment advantage statewide over Republicans. But DeFrancisco says George Pataki faced a similar daunting challenge in 1994 when he ran against Mario Cuomo. Pataki at the time was a state legislator after serving as mayor of tiny Peekskill.

DeFrancisco said it feels like déjà vu as Andrew Cuomo pursues a third four-year term. Both Cuomos were talked about for possible runs for U.S. president while they were long-serving governors.

DeFrancisco said both presided over significant population losses and economic decline upstate, while pushing a liberal social agenda on the state.

DeFrancisco said the governor pursues headlines at the state expense, whether sending state resources to Puerto Rico or firefighters to California.

“Everything he does has a purpose, and that is to benefit himself,” DeFrancisco said. “He wants to promote his national image.”

DeFrancisco also faulted Cuomo for not admitting mistakes and looking to blame others.

“Everybody makes mistakes,” DeFrancisco said. “If you make a mistake own up to it.”

He would favor across-the-board tax cuts, rather than targeted tax breaks and incentives for some businesses.

“We got to have everyone benefit,” he said.

State Sen. Rob Ortt introduced DeFrancisco.

“He’s a fighter,” Ortt said. “He fights everyday for the values of Upstate New York and Orleans County.”

Ortt has been in the State Senate for about three years.

“We have an ever-increasing tyrant for a governor who thinks the Legislature is there to applaud his political theater,” Ortt told the crowd.

DeFrancisco and Kolb both said they worry about the population loss in New York.

Brian Kolb said the state needs to reduce regulations and taxes on businesses or else it will continue to lose residents.

The population is down in New York in the latest population estimates from the Census Bureau, which shows declines in 46 out of 62 counties. Orleans County has one of the steepest drops. Orleans County had 42,883 people in the 2010 Census. It is down by 1,538 residents to 41,345, based on the 2016 population estimates. That drop of 3.57 percent ranks as the 55th most out of 62 counties.

The out migration of residents to other states has deprived New York of $4.6 billion in income to other states, Kolb said.

Kolb, 65, is a Canandaigua resident who co-founded the North American Filter Corporation, which manufactures air, gas and liquid filtration systems.

His private sector experience has showed him the need to reduce taxes and regulations that make it difficult for businesses to grow and succeed in New York State.

Kolb made a point to thank Charlie Nesbitt of Albion, the former state assemblyman. Nesbitt was a leader in the Republican Conference when Kolb was one of five candidates pursuing a seat to the district in Canandaigua. Nesbitt supported Kolb and helped get him elected. Nesbitt went on to be the conference leader in Albany. Kolb has held that position for more than eight years.

“Charlie’s heart is for our state and our country,” Kolb said at the GOP rally.

Kolb also commended Ed Morgan, the county’s Republican Party chairman, for his work promoting candidates around the state.

“Ed is a giving soul,” Kob said. “He’s one of the greatest people I’ve met in this business.”

Kolb has declined offers before to run for Congress and U.S. Senate. But he is interested in running for governor because he said state policies are driving away residents and burdening those that stay in the state.

“We have to reverse the out migration,” he said. “We have to make it better for your kids and my kids.”

Both Kolb and DeFrancisco said they are traveling the state to see if they can generate enthusiasm among Republicans for their candidacies. Neither has officially declared a run for governor.

Both Kolb and DeFrancisco travelled to Lyndonville with much of the trip on the Lake Ontario State Parkway. Both said it was a very bumpy ride and the road desperately needs state attention.

“The first thing I will do as governor is fix the Lake Ontario State Parkway,” DeFrancisco told the Republican crowd to cheers. “It was like driving on railroad tracks. It was absolutely ridiculous.”

Ed Morgan, the GOP chairman, joked he sent both guest speakers Mapquest directions that took them to the Parkway, rather than Route 104 or Route 18.

Morgan said he expects more Republicans to show interest in pursuing governor against Cuomo. Morgan said he hasn’t picked a candidate at this point. He said Kolb and DeFrancisco “are both very good men.”

DeFrancisco was the much more loquacious of the two on Thursday, talking far more and with more edginess than Kolb. DeFrancisco told the Republican candidates in town and county races to win big in the contested races, which would send a message to Cuomo.

“Beat the hell out of your opponents, punish your opponents, so they will never run against you again,” DeFrancisco said. “That will start the momentum to defeat Andrew Cuomo.”

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