Local Republicans met Saturday morning with the man who wants to be the next governor of New York and another who is considering a run for attorney general.
Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, who declared his candidacy for governor last month, and John Cahill, a former top aide to Gov. George E. Pataki, who may challenge incumbent Eric T. Schneiderman for the attorney general’s job, were joined by state Republican Party Chairman Ed Cox during a visit to Williamsville.
The trio attended a roundtable called by Erie County Republican Committee Chairman Nick Langworthy, which was followed by a regional GOP candidate screening session, in Amherst Township Post 416, Veterans of Foreign Wars, on Spring Street.
Outside, about a dozen protesters walked quietly in front of the building before the event. A sampling of signs included, “Raise minimum wage” and “pro-choice.”
The sessions were closed to the media, but Astorino and Cox met separately with reporters.
Astorino talked about the number of people moving out of state – he put it at approximately 400,000 during the past four years – and the state’s economy. He criticized Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s budget, saying it added billions of dollars in new debt.
Taxes need to be lowered across the board, Astorino said.
“That’s what we did in Westchester. We were able to drop the tax rate ... cut spending,” he said. “We have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state.”
According to state Department of Labor figures released this month, the unemployment rate in Westchester County was 6.3 percent in February, compared to a statewide average of 7.7 percent. There were six counties with lower rates; Tompkins County had the lowest, at 4.9 percent.
“The campaign’s really picking up steam,” Astorino said. “I think there’s a belief now that Andrew Cuomo is not invincible.”
The state’s GOP chairman said this was the fourth regional screening session for statewide candidates, with several more to come. “It’s a way for our candidates to get together with the party leaders on a regional basis and make their case to them,” Cox said.
“Western New York’s really important. We have been going from victory to victory here in Western New York,” said Cox, citing last fall’s elections that led to a Republican majority on the Erie County Legislature.