Republican nominee for governor Marc Molinaro barnstormed across Suffolk County on Sunday in his bid to deny a third term to Democratic Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.
The Dutchess County executive knocked Cuomo on a number of fronts, including the corruption convictions of top state officials, discord over the terms of a televised debate, and a recent executive order that enabled parolees, including sex offenders, to vote in schools.
During a town hall forum at Napper Tandy's Irish Pub in Smithtown, Molinaro also criticized Cuomo for the construction of state rest stops on highways, the state's review of tipped wages, and the governor's comment over the summer that America was “never that great."
"The guy needs a life. He's designing rest stops on your way into Long Island. He's telling people what they should do when they're serving dinners. He needs another job," Molinaro said. "Imagine the government is involved in so much of our lives, that's what we're worried about? You've got families leaving the State of New York in droves because they can't afford to live here. How about that?
Molinaro delivered a stump speech to a supportive crowd gathered by the bar and answered questions that revolved around Second Amendment protections, pardoning parolees, and drug-testing welfare recipients.
New Yorkers are overtaxed and overregulated, making the state "the least friendly place to retire," said Molinaro, who vowed to cut property taxes by 30 percent over the next five years.
“By any definition, we have the most corrupted state government in the country,” Molinaro said.
Cuomo campaign spokeswoman Abbey Collins said, “Trump mini-me Molinaro would rather talk about anything than his embarrassing anti-women, anti-immigrant and NRA ‘A’ rated record and pathetic campaign. What Molinaro failed to mention is his penchant for pay-to-play politics and long history giving county contracts to companies that employ his family. Like his idol Trump, Molinaro is only looking out for one person: himself.”
Molinaro offered specifics of his personal biography, saying he grew up on food stamps, has a daughter with a developmental disability, and is a New York Mets fan. “I have character," he said. "I can take a loss and keep plugging along.”
Also Sunday, Molinaro had scheduled appearances at the Sayville Chamber Fall Fest in Islip; Ronktoberfest Party in Ronkonkoma; and a meet the candidates forum in Bay Shore.
Paul Schulman, the father of Brittney Schulman, one of four young women killed in a 2015 limousine crash in Cutchogue, asked Molinaro if he would support reforming state laws to improve safety standards and the way drivers are licensed. He said Cuomo, in remarks after a limousine crash in upstate Schoharie, indicated that little could be done legislatively. "We'll do it," Molinaro said, to applause. "We should have made appropriate changes to regulation, and when I'm governor, we will, and then we'll enforce the law."
Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi cited an "ongoing criminal investigation" and said the state Department of Transportation "issued several violations against the vehicle and barred it from being used as a commercial vehicle. It appears the owner broke the law anyway, which is why one of its operators has already been charged with criminally negligent homicide. This is now a matter for the courts.”
Cuomo told reporters at a parade earlier this month that the limousine driver lacked an appropriate license. "I don't know that this is a situation where we can find a new law or a new regulation. You know, the instinct is always we need a new law, we need a new regulation. Sometimes the issue is the law worked fine, and the regulation worked fine, they were just broken."
Collins, Cuomo's campaign spokeswoman, said, "It’s sad, but not unexpected, that Molinaro would try to politicize a tragedy."