Aiming For Albany

LAKEWOOD – Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino said he’s not concerned about recent reports of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s massive lead in points and polls in the race to Election Day.

Republican leaders from far and wide convened at the Lakewood Rod & Gun Club on Monday night for the annual county Republican Committee dinner, and heard from Astorino about his plans for office if elected.

“We’re going around the state and talking about our message and how we’re going to make lives better in this state for middle class and small business owners,” he said. “By Nov. 4, people will know who I am, what I stand for and the failure that has been the Cuomo administration.”

While Astorino covered several initiatives set in motion by Cuomo, he expressed concern for improving New York’s business climate.

“In all the categories that matter most, we’re in dead last,” he said, adding that New York has the highest taxes in America, the worst business climate and the worst economic outlook. “It’s a hard state to make a living in and as a result we’ve had 400,000 New Yorkers leave in three-and-a-half years. Things need to change, and unless we do something dramatic, the landscape of New York will continue to spiral downward.”

In terms of Cuomo’s StartUp NY program, Astorino called it the biggest joke he’s seen in a long time.

“Who am I to say who here in Jamestown has the next best idea and what it is and where it should go? That’s for the entrepreneurs to dream about,” he said.

Three other issues of his concern included Medicaid spending, the SAFE Act and natural gas exploration.

“Our Medicaid system is broken at the expense of all the hardworking taxpayers who are packing up and leaving,” he said.

In terms of high-powered hydraulic fracturing, he said he would like to see it move forward in New York in a responsible and safe way.

“It’s just like 30 other states are doing, led by Democrats and Republicans,” he said.

As for the SAFE Act, he said he disapproves of the law and supports full repeal.

Lastly, he said he would use the budget to his advantage to see change.

“We would actually live within our means and you’d see a budget that was very different. We would have great opportunities to set a new course through the budget,” he said.

In terms of his opponent, Astorino said he’s not worried.

“Nobody votes tomorrow. We vote in November,” he said, adding he has experience with winning and losing in the past.

As the current Westchester County Executive, said he has been in the same place before during campaign season.

“I was 30 points down, outspent by five to one in a two to one Democratic county at this point in 2009 and we won by 13 points,” he said.

Chautauqua County was his 58th stop on the road to visiting all of New York’s 62 counties.