The polls don’t show it, and campaign funds are not exactly overwhelming Rob Astorino yet.
But that didn’t stop the Republican candidate for governor from insisting during a Tuesday campaign stop in Buffalo that a new and significant “shift in perception” now marks his underdog race against incumbent Democrat Andrew M. Cuomo.
“The large donors are getting on board,” he said following a news conference outside Central Terminal on the city’s East Side. “He’s already spent $10 million in negative ads against me; my numbers are up, and his are down.”
Astorino, the Westchester county executive, credits the controversy swirling around Cuomo’s handling of the Moreland Commission investigating public corruption as the basis for his new optimism. He said the frequent news reports outlining charges that Cuomo interfered with the commission’s probe when it involved his own political interests will eventually begin to register with voters.
Still, the most recent public opinion poll conducted by Siena College shows most New Yorkers are not familiar with the Moreland Commission flap facing Cuomo. The early August survey reported 67 percent of voters say they were unfamiliar with the Moreland Commission’s work. Cuomo also posted a wide lead in all polls pitting him against Astorino.
“I’m not big on polls,” Astorino said Tuesday. “Polls are today, and we’re not voting tomorrow.”
He predicted that most New Yorkers will not even begin paying attention to the contest for governor until after Labor Day.
The Republican said he chose the abandoned former New York Central Railroad terminal for his latest Buffalo stop because it serves as a “symbol of decay.”
“Look at it,” he said on the terrace of the former bustling rail hub. “The decay is a symbol of what is happening in this state. It’s a facade with nothing in the middle.”
Astorino also unveiled a “jobs plan” that he said could reverse a host of negative economic rankings for the state. He called for a seven-point program centering around regulatory reform, tax relief, infrastructure investment, accelerated energy development, accelerating technology start-ups, increasing the availability of skilled workers and strengthening the state’s agricultural economy.
Astorino was also slated to attend the Erie County Conservative Party picnic in West Seneca on Tuesday, along with running mate Christopher Moss and GOP comptroller candidate Robert Antonacci.