CATSKILL, N.Y. - Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo, driving a Long Island camper, stopped here Saturday to pick up the endorsement of a Republican official and urge voters to help him overhaul state government.
Accompanied by two of his three daughters, Cuomo stepped from the 29-foot motor home into an art gallery on Main Street. He spoke briefly to about 120 people, some coming from the nearby farmer's market as word spread of his arrival.
Cuomo's 45-minute stop, one of four Saturday, was part of his first campaign tour since being nominated for governor in May. He said he would outline his five-point agenda for consolidation of governments, tough ethics rules for politicians, less state spending and taxes, and more private-sector jobs at each event.
"I want to use the opportunity to explain to the people . . . exactly what I think needs to be done," Cuomo told Newsday. "To build popular support for that plan, so in January, we can say to the legislature, 'Here's what we want done.' "
Inside the Brik storefront gallery, Cuomo warned New York was "at a tipping point" where decisions made in the next few years will determine whether a renaissance or more degradation occurs. "I don't want my children to move away to find their future," he said, gesturing to Mariah, 15, and Michaela, 12.
Catskill, population 4,400, is two hours north of Manhattan. It was home to 19th-century painter Thomas Cole, whose Hudson River landscapes popularized the region. The village also is part of Greene County, where Republicans outnumber Democrats 13,223 to 7,805. But some Republicans Saturday embraced Cuomo over their party's gubernatorial designee Rick Lazio and his primary challenger Carl Paladino. Both trail Cuomo in opinion polls and fundraising.
"Andrew Cuomo is the right man to get our state back on track," Catskill board president Vincent Seeley said in his endorsement speech.
Still, none of the attendees interviewed would publicly commit to voting for Cuomo. Some wanted to know more about the other candidates.
"We stand in support of change. We need to clean up Albany," said the Rev. Richard Turpin of the Second Baptist Church.
Later in an Albany suburb, Cuomo defended his massive campaign treasury, $23.6 million compared with Lazio's $688,822 and Paladino's promised $10 million plus. "If you don't have the money to run a campaign, you're not competitive," Cuomo said at a picnic of Democrats.
On Long Island Saturday, the owners of the RV Cuomo is using expressed delight it would be seen throughout the Hudson Valley and Adirondacks. Suzanne Mechwart, vice president of Commack Trailer Sales in Huntington Station, said: "His people have told me everything is going well."
The tour began Thursday in Suffern and its first phase continues through July 25, covering more than a dozen upstate counties. Cuomo will visit Long Island in coming weeks.