NEW YORK NOW – Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino said Friday that the fundraising gap between himself and presumed GOP gubernatorial nominee Rep. Lee Zeldin won’t stop him from challenging the congressman in a primary next year.
Astorino reported about $1 million in campaign contributions since his campaign started in May, compared to the roughly $4 million reported by Zeldin, who was recently selected by county chairs around the state as their favorite in next year’s election.
When asked about both of those disparities, Astorino said he’s okay with being labeled the underdog, but that he won’t be counted out.
“Nobody should underestimate what I can do, and what we did in Westchester when they said we had zero chance of winning in Westchester, because it’s a two to one Democratic county, and yet we won,” Astorino said.
“My case is gonna be made with 3 million registered Republicans who are gonna decide who they feel is their most electable, conservative Republican to take on the Democratic machine.”
Astorino previously served two terms as Westchester County Executive, and most recently ran unsuccessfully for State Senate last year.
He also suggested that things may not be as they appear when it comes to the support garnered by Zeldin from Republican leaders across the state.
“I’ve talked to many party chairs and others who have endorsed Lee, and they’ve said that they’d been pressured to do so, or things will change or can change,” Astorino said.
“I don’t want to say it’s meaningless, because I don’t want to show disrespect, but to me it was always about talking to the Republican voters of New York.”
Rep. Lee Zeldin has secured endorsements from nearly every Republican county chair in New York, including Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin.
“This is the moment that we can begin to regroup, and regain who New York is supposed to be, which is the strongest, greatest state in the Nation. Lee Zeldin is the man to do that,” said McLaughlin, who held an event in support of Zeldin Friday.
Astorino specifically addressed McLaughlin’s endorsement of Zeldin, saying there are no hard feelings.
“Steve McLaughlin is a friend of mine, we worked together, we’ve been friends for a long time, and so too are the party chairs. They’re gonna make whatever their decision is now, but ultimately, those decisions can change,” Astorino said.
“Whoever wins the primary, I am convinced that everybody will unify around, because the ultimate goal is to get Cuomo out of this building.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has indicated that he plans to run for a fourth term in next year’s elections, and reported $2.5 million in contributions over the past six months this week.