As Republican candidates for governor go, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino is no Carl Paladino.
At least that's what down-ballot GOP candidates, who saw the irascible Buffalo real estate man as a drag on the 2010 ticket, are saying and hoping -- even if they aren't betting Astorino unseats Democratic Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, the odds-on favorite, on Nov. 4.
For one thing, the more polished Astorino comes into the general election having twice been elected in a heavily Democratic downstate county. He was nominated smoothly at the conventions of the state Republicans and Conservatives. Paladino in contrast essentially led a Western New York GOP insurrection to win a particularly bitter and nasty GOP primary as a "mad-as-hell" tea partyer.
This time out, both major-party candidates have relevant elected records to bash and defend in turn. But there are also echoes from four years ago and before. Cuomo again seeks to paint as extreme a foe who, true to expected form, depicts the Democratic-led state as bleeding taxpayers.
ELEVENTH-HOUR AID: The effort to get ex-Rep. Kathy Hochul nominated as Cuomo's running mate for lieutenant governor brought contributions from well-heeled sources in the closing hours of Tuesday's primary race. Her committee reported receiving $19,000 on Monday from Deborah Rechler of Glen Head, wife of developer and Port Authority board member Scott Rechler; and $19,700 each from New Yorkers for Putting Students First, a pro-charter-school organization, and the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners.
BLUNT IN DEFEAT: Defeated Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Tim Wu chose to forgo kumbaya rituals in favor of candor in a post-primary interview with the website Capital New York -- saying he found it "challenging" to respect Mayor Bill de Blasio's decision to back the "conservative" Hochul against the "progressive" candidate, himself.
By comparison, Wu said, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman showed "dignity" by voicing "one of those lukewarm party endorsements" for Cuomo and Hochul.
CAUCUS CONCERN: With a statewide Senate majority in play, suspense mounts over whether Sen. Mark Grisanti (R-Buffalo) will actively campaign on the Independence Party line after losing the GOP primary to Kevin Stocker -- and what strategy the State Senate Republican campaign committee might follow to keep the competitive seat from falling to the Democratic nominee, Marc Panepinto.