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Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino brought his campaign for governor to downtown Buffalo on Thursday with a message that the business climate must improve in order to stem the tide of population loss from the state.

Rep. Chris Collins, R-Clarence, endorsed Astorino and hosted him at ZeptoMetrix, a biotechnology company on Main Street that is partially owned by the Collins family.

Astorino, a Republican, hopes to unseat Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who has the advantage of having $33 million in his campaign treasury, a statewide voter enrollment that is 2-1 Democrat to Republican and the ability to heavily advertise state programs on television and on billboards.

Astorino was critical of Cuomo on a host of issues, including the governor’s plan to provide college education for prison inmates.

“Maybe our 10-year-old son, we should sit him down and explain to him how to rob a bank,” said Astorino, noting that he and his wife, Sheila, are saving $300 per month for college for their three children.

In attendance at Thursday’s event were Erie County Clerk Chris Jacobs, Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw, Niagara County Republican Chairman Scott P. Kiedrowski, North Tonawanda Mayor Robert G. Ortt and Erie County Legislators Ted B. Morton, Kevin R. Hardwick and Edward A. Rath III.

Erie County Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy did not attend Thursday’s media event but said he would see Astorino later that night. He has not made any endorsements in the race but said he was glad Astorino visited Buffalo.

“I think we’re going to see how many candidates we have for governor,” Langworthy said. “We’re waiting to see what Donald Trump does.”

Collins is also hosting a breakfast in Batavia this morning for Astorino with Republican chairmen of rural counties.

Astorino has twice been elected Westchester County executive, where Democratic enrollment is 2-1, which gives Republicans hope that he can appeal to Democratic and independent voters. Astorino kicked off his campaign Thursday morning in the Bronx.

Protesters from Planned Parenthood and opponents of hydraulic fracturing were standing outside ZeptoMetrix.

Astorino, who is pro-life but said he realizes he lives in a “pro-choice state,” said he would veto a bill in Albany that concerns abortion and has been controversial in the State Legislature. But he said abortion is “not going anywhere in New York State.”

“Abortion is an issue that Gov. Cuomo would like to talk about so he doesn’t have to talk about his record on spending and taxes,” Astorino said.

He also said he would not seek to change the state’s gay marriage law.

“It was done the right way,” he said. “It was done through the legislature.”

Cuomo on Thursday dismissed Astorino’s entry into the governor’s race.

“Let’s first find out who the candidate is,’’ Cuomo said on the Capitol Pressroom, a public radio show.

He suggested Astorino might not be the Republican Party’s nominee to face him this fall. “Maybe it’s Mr. Donald Trump,’’ Cuomo said of the billionaire businessman who has been flirting with a GOP run. “Maybe it’s Mr. Carl Paladino again … or maybe it’s Mr. Astorino,” Cuomo said.

News Albany Bureau Chief Tom Precious contributed to this report. email: jterreri@buffnews.com