It Begins: Rob Astorino for New York Governor

The day after Mitt Romney won the nomination for President (give or take a few weeks) and I decide it’s time to pivot to among other things local politics, it was refreshing to see Westchester county executive Rob Astorino interviewed in National Review.

He had been getting some national attention over his issues with the Obama Campaign’s HUD Department and his 2012 budget, and this will only help raise his profile…which is very convenient considering he’s one of small amount of names who might have a shot against Andrew Cuomo in 2014.

A little of the interview…

A year after Obama won more than 65 percent of the vote in the county, Republican Rob Astorino was elected as Westchester’s county executive by a margin of 16 points. Astorino highlighted the three issues he has emphasized as county executive, which he considers the key roles of local government anywhere: making sure property taxes are reasonable, maintaining essential services, and attracting businesses and economic development.

His combination of personal appeal and policy knowledge seem to suggest great political potential, but when I prompted him about future ambitions, he smiled and demurred, emphasizing his long-term commitment to reform in Westchester

He attributes his vigorous approach to government reform to his concern for the problems of his home county, and to his wider beliefs about the proper function of government: “The county is tangled with the state,” but Westchester, as a large county, can be “a model, a laboratory for the rest of the state and the federal government. If we can do it in Westchester, it can be done elsewhere.”

Like, say Albany and the state of New York as a whole? Astorino offered some of the few criticisms of Cuomo’s recent “State of the State” address, saying there’s was next to nothing on cutting spending…which could be an opening.

Cuomo has leaned right (at least by New York standards) in cutting income taxes and the MTA Payroll tax for a temporary increase on cats making more than two million, but all the political jiu-jitsu in the world (side note, legalize MMA in NY) won’t help him with a Democrat base who considers spending cuts a beyond the pale slur.

Astorino pull off one upset victory a few years ago (and picking up two legeislative seats in November wasn’t too shabby). If he can do it again when he’s up for re-election next year, could a hat trick in 2014 be that far fetched?

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