New York Republicans took one more step toward completing their statewide ticket Wednesday when Onondaga County Comptroller Robert E. Antonacci announced his candidacy for comptroller.

Elected twice by Onondaga County voters, the candidate launched his effort during a Syracuse news conference that emphasized his credentials in the showdown with incumbent Democrat Thomas P. DiNapoli.

“In Onondaga County, I’ve proven I’m not afraid to stand up and fight against government inefficiency,” he said. “I’ve performed countless audits and have worked with officials of both parties to find solutions. I want to take this experience and bring it to our state government.”

The state GOP will meet beginning next Wednesday in Westchester County to nominate Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino to face Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in November. But while former Environmental Conservation Commissioner John P. Cahill is set to become the candidate for attorney general, and Antonacci is now set as the comptroller candidate, Astorino still has not settled on a running mate.

That situation clarified a bit Wednesday when The Buffalo News learned that Michael A. Battle, a former U.S. attorney for Western New York, had not accepted serious inquiries about running with Astorino. Several sources say Battle, also a former Erie County Family Court judge, remains happy in private practice in New York City.

Astorino, meanwhile, told an Albany radio station later in the day that Battle did not meet constitutional residency requirements of five years in order to run for the post. Battle lived for several years in the Washington area while serving as a top official of the Department of Justice.

“I think he would have been an amazing lieutenant governor,” Astorino told Talk 1300 Radio. “He doesn’t qualify.”

In an interesting twist, Antonacci said he will participate in the pilot program Cuomo and lawmakers approved in March to provide taxpayer money to candidates in the comptroller’s race. DiNapoli has said he will not take the taxpayer money and rely solely on private contributions.

Antonacci told TMC News in Syracuse that the public funds will be “an investment by the New York State taxpayers to make sure that we have the ability to tell people and explain what it is we’re doing in New York State and what we need to do to make this the Empire State again. And I’m very proud to participate in that program.”

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