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Gubernatorial possibility Astorino rubs elbows with local GOP

Mike Desmond/WBFO News

Likely Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino was in town Thursday night for the Erie County Republican Committee Christmas party and sending smoke signals to the gubernatorial candidate from 2010, Carl Paladino, that they are on the same page. Astorino, 46, is about to begin his second term as county executive in the dark blue county of Westchester after winning big in November. He says he has been successful by governing as a Republican: fighting costs and lowering taxes, something he says he would do if he beats Governor Cuomo next November.

Astorino says he cut into usually-Democratic voting blocs to win in a county with many more Democrats than Republicans.

"I'm very proud of how we did that, too. We built coalitions which helped us win. We had 61% of the Hispanic vote, 25% of the African-American vote, and 30% of the overall Democratic vote. So, we can win. We can win in a county that's very blue like Westchester, home of the Clintons, and we, or any Republican, can win in New York State," Astorino said.

Astorino says if elected, he would set the agenda for the State Legislature and Republican leaders there. He has not formally declared his candidacy.

He says the key issues are jobs and taxes and that high taxes are hurting job creation. He admits part of the problem in Albany is that Republicans have gone along with Democrats in running the state and he says that has to stop.

Paladino says Astorino can win and he might back him if he gets rid of Senate Temporary President Dean Skelos and Republican Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb. Astorino says he might not remove them but they would follow his lead.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.