(Updates with comment from the Republican National Committee.)
ALBANY -- Former Gov. George Pataki said Monday that he’s disappointed with the Republican Governors Association for not backing GOP governor candidate Rob Astorino in his attempt to repeat Pataki’s 1994 upset.
“To me, it’s disappointing so many Republicans, for whatever reason, sat it out,” Pataki said Monday in an interview.
Astorino didn’t get the financial backing or other resources of the Republican governors’ group. Astorino is running against Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a popular and well-funded Democrat.
Pataki said he also didn’t have the commitment of party leaders including his local leaders before his upset win over Cuomo’s father, Gov. Mario Cuomo, in 1994.
“It’s a little personal to me,” Pataki said.
“The Republican Party needs to have two things: First, a person who is a proven leader and executive and Rob has done that,” Pataki said. “Second, we need someone who can appeal across party lines.” He noted Astorino has won two terms as county executive in Westchester County where Democrats have a 2:1 enrollment advantage.
“For Republicans in July to say in absolute, certain terms what’s going to happen in November is disappointing,” he said.
RGA leader Chris Christie, the New Jersey governor, said last month that the association must prioritize its spending and not invest in “lost causes.”
“The day after the statement, the Moreland Commission report came out,” Pataki said. He referred to The New York Times report of allegations that Cuomo interfered with his corruption commission.
“Things change,” Pataki said. “It’s still more than three months to November and three weeks is a lifetime in politics.”
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara is investigating the commission’s demise in March by Cuomo and the cases it turned over to the federal prosecutor.
The first statewide poll since the conflict came to dominate Albany news coverage is expected in a few days.
The RGA didn’t immediately respond to Pataki’s comments Monday.
“He has been through it and he hasn't forgotten what it's like to fight against the status quo,” said Astorino spokeswoman Jessica Proud. “He has been a great mentor and friend to the county executive and we're enormously grateful for his support.”
Astorino has said Christie should leave the job if he’s not going to support Republicans running for governor.
The Republican National Committee Monday afternoon posted a criticism of Cuomo, a potentially 2016 presidential candidate, but didn't mention Astorino.
"With federal prosecutors getting involved over allegations the Cuomo Administration improperly interfered with corruption investigations into its political allies, it’s time for the governor to come clean," the RNC stated. "New Yorkers deserve to know whether their governor shut down his own anti-corruption unit to protect his friends."
Cuomo’s campaign had no immediate comment.