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Cuomo, campaigning in Buffalo, turns focus to Astorino

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sept. 7, 2014.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sept. 7, 2014. Credit: Richard Harbus

ALBANY -- Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo Wednesday led a campaign rally in Buffalo as he sought to brush off Tuesday's Democratic primary and focus on Republican Rob Astorino, who is seeking to capture an anyone-but-Cuomo vote.

Cuomo was introduced as the "greatest governor New York has ever had" amid cheering Democrats in Buffalo. Meanwhile, Astorino campaigned in Staten Island and said the Democratic primary showed a weakness for Cuomo.

"There are tectonic plates shifting around in New York and it's under the radar, but it's happening," Astorino said Wednesday. "I felt the same stuff in 2009 when we won and people said we wouldn't win." He referred to his 2009 win to become county executive in Westchester County which, like the state as a whole, has a 2-to-1 enrollment advantage for Democrats.

"For the governor to be rebuked by 40 percent of the Democratic primary vote is significant," he said.

Cuomo won the Democratic primary 62-34 percent over little-known and underfunded Zephyr Teachout. Cuomo's running mate, former Rep. Kathy Hochul, beat Teachout's running mate, Tim Wu, 60 percent to 40 percent. Turnout was exceedingly low, just shy of 10 percent.

"Now as we turn to the general election, the contrast between the vision Kathy and I have for New York and that of the Republican nominees could not be clearer," Cuomo said. "Elections are about choices. But this isn't just a choice between two candidates or two parties; this November is a choice between two very different paths for our state."

Cuomo's chairman of the state Democratic Committee, former Gov. David A. Paterson, underscored that strategy by saying Astorino caters to the "farthest extreme."

Cuomo said he will focus on his record. He said it includes restoring jobs and whittling down a $10 billion deficit. He also stressed differences with Astorino, including Cuomo's support of greater protection for late-term abortions and his gun control law, which Astorino opposes.

Meanwhile, Teachout, in an interview Wednesday, said, "Before I ran, I spoke with a lot of Democratic operatives who said that it was sort of dangerous for my reputation to run, that -- without specifics -- it would be embarrassing, difficult and ruin any future chances of getting involved in politics . . . a culture of unspecified fear.

"But it's a bit of an illusion how difficult it is to run against the Albany machine," the Fordham law professor said. "Voters seem to be very open to something different and skeptical of some of the dismissiveness we got from some of the insiders."

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