Tags: Cuomo | Astorino | New York | conservative

Cuomo's Dogged Conservative Opponent Astorino

By    |   Saturday, 11 Oct 2014 04:32 PM

New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino hasn't changed his positions much since his much-younger days as an 18-year-old volunteer for a 1985 race in his hometown. People who have dealt with him over the years say he's always been a steadfast conservative.

“Robbie has the same principles and the same fire in the belly that he had when he was younger,” Sue Swanson, a former Westchester County legislator and Conservative Party leader who mentored Astorino's earliest campaigns, told The New York Times.

In his youth, he was often compared to teenaged Republican Alex P. Keaton of "Family Ties" fame, and since then, his admirers have described him as "principled and moralistic" while his detractors say he's "rigid and parochial," but people on both sides say he hasn't changed over the years.

The Times, though, reports Astorino has actually had a complicated life, including a failed marriage and a father who was jailed for corruption. Further, Astorino has had to distance himself from members of his own family, including a stepbrother accused of being involved with the Genovese Mafia family.

Astorino could not be more different from Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a centrist who says his challenger is out of touch.

Astorino, though, is emphasizing those conservative credentials, saying that Cuomo is leading a state with the highest taxes in the country and the worst economic outlook.

Further, Astorino has slammed Cuomo on abortion, including a part of a proposed Women's Equality Act that allows women to get an abortion after the sixth month of pregnancy, if her health is in danger.

“He’s a true believer,” Michael Edelman, a longtime Republican commentator on Westchester politics, told The Times. “He just chooses a path that’s more conservative normally, and he won’t alter his position based on whether someone says to him, ‘Rob, you shouldn’t do that in a blue state.’ ”

Astorino took office as the Westchester County Executive in 2009 and was re-elected last year. He promised to cut taxes and spending, and while they have not dropped that much, the county's workforce is now 15 percent leaner through agency mergers.

He says he wants to do the same thing if elected to Albany, while targeting social services.
"You can’t tell me in a $55 billion Medicaid program — where we spend more than Texas, Pennsylvania and Florida combined — that there’s not massive waste and fraud there,” he said.

Mark Oxman, executive director of the Westchester County Democratic Party, said that he believes "he wears conservative blinders ... everything he does in governance is dictated by this philosophy. There’s no compromise. It’s my way or the highway. He’s entirely rigid.”

But he's also an enthusiastic politician, and on the campaign trail has revealed a man who knows how to turn on the charm, including the time he took a turn to read a book in fluent Spanish to children at a Poughkeepsie community center for at-risk minority children.

And he's also enthusiastic about his chances to win.

“Yeah, we’ve got a good shot,” he said at a recent stop at the Vassar College bookstore. “Everything is starting to come into focus now.”

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New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorinohasn't changed his positions much since his much-younger days as an 18-year-old volunteer for a 1985 race in his hometown. People who have dealt with him over the years say he's always been a steadfast conservative....
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2014-32-11
Saturday, 11 Oct 2014 04:32 PM
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