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McKinstry: 2014 gubernatorial run by Rob Astorino is unlikely

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino talks to the

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino talks to the media in Valhalla. (March 1, 2012) Credit: Rory Glaeseman

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino’s name is among those being tossed around for a potential gubernatorial run in 2014 but don’t expect to see his name on the top of any GOP ticket.

He’s not looking to relocate to the executive mansion in Albany. Not next year, anyway, since the governor is even considered by many Republicans to be unbeatable.

The first term Republican is among several candidates floated by state GOP Chairman Ed Cox as a possible challenger to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, also of Westchester, whose once colossal poll numbers are coming back down from those highs.

Other names mentioned in published reports and by Republican insiders include Harry Wilson, a hedge fund manager from Scarsdale who ran an impressive race in 2010 against Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and county executives Marc Malinaro of Dutchess and Greg Edwards of Chautauqua in western, N.Y.

The name dropping comes as Cuomo is expected to begin a victory tour after passing a third consecutive on-time budget.

State Republicans clearly like Astorino’s credentials. He hasn’t raised county taxes, has negotiated concessions like health care contributions for some union workers, and has shrunk the size of government. He’s also a prolific fundraiser, but still may be no match for Cuomo’s ability to raise cash.

In February Cox mentioned Astorino as a potential contender, just as he did during the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. in August. Actually the whispers started soon after Astorino won the county executive seat in 2009.

But before the GOP elevates Astorino to front-runner status, he’s got to win his own re-election bid for county executive in November. Despite his popularity and likeability, it’s no slam dunk. Astorino is a Republican in a Democratic county with a roughly 2-to-1 registration advantage. And candidates are lining up to run against him: three Democrats and a tea partier are gunning for him.

Even if he wins, don’t count on Astorino to run for governor in 2014.

So all this Republican talk might actually be about 2018.