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Molinaro says he’s locked up GOP nod for governor

ALBANY — Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro declared Thursday that he has locked up the Republican nomination for governor through the endorsements of county chairmen.

His opponent, Sen. John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse), has already said he was suspending his campaign for the GOP nomination and was no longer paying campaign staffers.

As the Republican nominee, Molinaro will take on either Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo or his Democratic primary challenger, activist and actress Cynthia Nixon, in November.

Molinaro’s campaign calculated he has 82.3 percent of the weighted votes of county Republican chairs. Republican leaders will vote on a nominee at their May convention.

Molinaro asserted that he is far more in touch with New Yorkers than Cuomo. He said he grew up poor and understands the importance of Medicaid, because his daughter receives some benefits for a disability.

“My mom was a single mom,” Molinaro told reporters. “Food stamps put food on our table many nights. I thought Central Hudson was a person who was calling our house, and I didn’t understand why he wanted a check from my mother.”

Molinaro said Thursday that Cuomo has collected an “obscene” amount of campaign donations, including at $25,000-per-ticket events from people who seek and receive state funding.

By contrast, “I know what it’s like to struggle in the state of New York,” Molinaro said. “And I may be an unconventional candidate . . . someone who is willing to put ideology and partisanship aside to solve problems.”

He said he would reduce the scale of government and keep spending flat. Cuomo has held state spending increases to about 2 percent annually.

Molinaro, 42, said that when he became county executive in 2011, he inherited a $40 million deficit. In two terms, he said, he had created a $20 surplus and brought about four years of property tax reductions.

Neither Cuomo nor Nixon immediately responded to calls requesting comment.

DeFrancisco has said for weeks that he might withdraw from the race, but he has urged the party to do a proper vetting of Molinaro before it makes a final decision.

Republican leaders from Westchester, Niagara and Albany counties endorsed Molinaro on Thursday.

Cuomo’s campaign said Molinaro is out of touch with most New Yorkers.

“Marc Molinaro’s pro-NRA, anti-LGBTQ, anti-woman campaign speaks to the sad state of the NY GOP,” said Cuomo campaign spokeswoman Abbey Fashouer. “Their only ‘success story’ in recent memory is Donald Trump — who is punishing New Yorkers by raising our taxes, terrorizing immigrant communities, and rolling back critical environmental protections.”

Asked how he would contend with Cuomo’s $30 million campaign fund, Molinaro said: “Bake sales, lots and lots of bake sales.”

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