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RYE BROOK -- New York’s Republican Party opened its convention Wednesday with the theme “It’s Our Time,” after four years of “fiction and fraud” under a state government led by Democratic Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
National political commentator Lawrence Kudlow offered the first red meat in his keynote address. He urged New York Republicans to take on Democrats over taxes, a poor business climate and Cuomo’s failure to expand lucrative drilling for natural gas trapped in the Southern Tier and Central New York.
Kudlow urged New York Republicans to go to the meetings of political clubs dominated by African Americans, Latinos and other minorities. That’s the same approach that Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino has adopted after announcing his campaign in a Democratic stronghold in the Bronx earlier this year.
“The Republican Party will have a welcome sign, ‘All are welcome,’ ” Kudlow said. “We are not just the party of angry white men … we are not.”
The party faces an uphill battle in the state dominated in a 2 to 1 ratio by Democratic voters. The Republicans' only power base in Albany now is a partnership in a bipartisan coalition that runs the State Senate, which had held sole control of the chamber for over a half-century. Republicans haven't won a statewide office since George Pataki was re-elected governor in 2002. Not counting Pataki, the last Republican to win a statewide contest was Dennis Vacco for attorney general in 1998.
Cuomo remains popular in the polls and has more than $30 million in his campaign account as of the January filings. Astorino last fall won re-election as Westchester County executive in the heavily Democrat suburban county but had just $1 million left over in campaign funds.
Democrats also have incumbents in Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.
Schneiderman faces Republican John Cahill, a former chief of staff to Pataki. Cahill, a Yonkers resident, is pushing a middle-of-the road agenda based in part his record as Pataki’s environmental conservation commissioner.
DiNapoli faces Onondaga County Comptroller Robert Antonacci, who said he will take advantage of a pilot program of public campaign financing. That program uses state funds to match campaign donations and could quickly help the Syracuse-area Republican amass the funding needed for a statewide race.