ALBANY — A Republican county executive from the Hudson Valley kicked off his gubernatorial campaign Monday, pledging to “restore accountability to New York state government.”
Marcus Molinaro, the Dutchess County executive, already has picked up endorsements from most of the Republican county chairmen across the state. He formally launched his bid in Tivoli, a small village about 50 miles south of Albany where, in 1995 at age 19, he became the youngest mayor in the United States at the time.
Comparing himself with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, Molinaro talked of being poor enough to receive a “free lunch” at school and not someone “born with a famous last name or into a leading political family.”
Molinaro blasted the Democrat’s leadership and what he called a “culture of corruption,” while referring to the recent conviction of Joseph Percoco, the governor’s former top aide, on bribery charges.
“Today, people have lost faith in their government in Albany, not just in the policies, but also in the honest, character and competency of its leadership,” Molinaro, 42, said at a second campaign event later in the day in Albany. And he criticized Cuomo’s bullying style.
“One-upmanship, scapegoating, yelling louder and tweeting meaner has replaced cooperation, quiet conversation and compromise,” the Republican said.
Cuomo, at an event in the Manhattan, sought to tie Molinaro to Republican President Donald Trump.
“Look, they want to run a Trump mini-me in New York? Good luck,” Cuomo said Monday. He said Republicans oppose New York values, such as reproductive rights, adding: “No one is going to vote for a Trump clone in New York.”
Molinaro isn’t the lone Republican in the race. Sen. John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse) also is seeking the party’s nomination. But since Molinaro told party leaders last month he’s in, most of the GOP’s county leaders — including Suffolk County’s John Jay LaValle — have gravitated toward him.
Besides serving as mayor of Tivoli, Molinaro served in the Dutchess County legislature and the state Assembly (2007-11). He was elected county executive in 2011.
Cuomo is facing a challenge for the Democratic nomination from actress Cynthia Nixon, former star of “Sex and The City.” She launched her campaign last week.