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Republican business turnaround expert considering Governor run

Tom Magnarelli

Several names are popping up as possible contenders to run against Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2018. One Republican business expert is exploring that idea and attacking what he calls Cuomo’s lack of understanding of how businesses create jobs.Harry Wilson has spent his career turning around companies headed for bankruptcy. He worked as a senior advisor of the U.S. Treasury Department under President Barack Obama, helping to oversee the restructuring of General Motors after the 2008 financial crisis.

“I had this mental image of a lot of bureaucrats who had never worked with stress situations before, throwing a lot of taxpayer money at it, making the problem worse, wasting a lot of money," Wilson said. "I thought to myself, if it was done right, it actually can be fixed.”

Wilson ran -- and lost -- for New York state comptroller in 2010. But he recently met with the Onondaga County Republican Committee to talk about running for governor.

“Where I think we could do a much better job for the people of central New York is using the resources of the state government to create a business environment and climate where businesses want to stay here," Wilson said. "Secondly, use the resources of the state government to help those in transition.”

Wilson said that means more training programs specifically tailored to employers.

“The governor has a very top down approach where he’ll throw a bunch of money at a problem and announce it solved, when the reality is it takes a lot of hard work behind the scenes of working with these employers to satisfy their needs,” Wilson said. "The government and the governor could work much more closely with employers to help them develop training programs and create a pipeline of talent of people in the community and central New York to work with and fill those vacancies in the area."

Wilson said he wants to help workers transition to the new high-tech economy.

"Some of those cases traditional college is great, and some of those cases, vocational programs are much better," Wilson said. 

Wilson is also calling for lower business taxes. He’s not the only one thinking about a run for governor. Former Rep. Richard Hanna said he is considering it and reportedly, so is state Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, among others. Wilson said he will make a decision in the fall.

Tom Magnarelli is a freelance reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area.
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