Republican Marcus Molinaro is the executive for Dutchess County.

Republican Marcus Molinaro is the executive for Dutchess County. Credit: Newsday / Courtesy of Marcus Molinaro

ALBANY — State Republican Chairman Ed Cox on Friday said Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro has re-entered the race for the GOP nomination for governor following a decisive victory in a straw poll among party leaders.

Molinaro’s spokesman, however, wouldn’t confirm the decision.

Molinaro received 55 votes to 23 votes for State Sen. John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse), who has been actively running for the GOP nomination to take on Democratic Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

The state Republican Party announced the result of the informal survey after its meeting in Saratoga Springs.

“It’s a good indication that there is a lot of support for Marc Molinaro and also for Senator DeFrancisco,” Cox told Newsday. Cox said there is no doubt Molinaro is back in the race despite a lack of a formal announcement.

Molinaro had created a campaign committee to run for governor, but said in January he had decided against it. Some party leaders have been urging him to reconsider.

“He said he was running for governor of New York State, flat out,” Cox said. “It’s good to have a strong county executive from a major county of New York State in there who has been a very successful county executive, along with one of our primary leaders in the State Senate.”

After the vote, Molinaro spokesman David Catalfamo said: “Marc is deeply grateful and humbled by the support. There will be no formal announcement today.”

Few party leaders participated in the straw poll. Under party rules, only those county and state leaders in attendance could vote. Although 460 leaders attended the meeting, most didn’t vote, Cox said.

Former Pataki administration official Joseph Holland received four votes in the straw poll.

Molinaro’s reconsideration is the latest shuffle among Republican candidates.

Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb (R-Canandaigua) ended his campaign Feb. 9, citing family concerns about the time such an effort would require.

On Thursday, former Erie County Executive Joel Giambra left the hunt for the GOP nomination to pursue an independent bid for governor.

“We look forward to continuing our run,” said DeFrancisco spokesman William F.B. O’Reilly. “Senator DeFrancisco will let nothing distract him from the nomination. It’s full speed ahead.”

Molinaro has been the county executive for Dutchess County since 2012. Before that, he served five years in the state Assembly and began his political career as mayor of the village of Tivoli, where he served more than a decade.

Cuomo campaign spokesman Geoff Berman downplayed Molinaro’s apparent move and slapped at DeFrancisco.

“Given the untenable, anti-New York positions of the GOP’s current de facto nominee, I’m not surprised to hear they are exploring other alternatives,” Berman said. “Unfortunately for them, Molinaro is more of the same.”

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