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Former Erie County Executive Joel Giambra running for governor

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Former Erie County Executive Joel Giambra says he is running be the Republican candidate for governor against Andrew Cuomo.

With Wall Street money-man Harry Wilson's recent announcement that he is not running, there is no clear frontrunner in the race. Republican county chairpersons are meeting in Albany on Monday to talk about who should be the candidate, with a need to start fundraising to match Cuomo's $26 million campaign war chest.

Giambra says that cash pile is why he wants to change the campaign finance system.

"We need to take a serious look at public financing of campaigns because the money is where the corruption begins. The money, the obscene amounts of money, that one has to raise is where elected officials are compromised and that's part of the whole pay-to-play system," Giambra told WBFO.

Giambra says the State of the State message delivered by Cuomo Wednesday was a platform to run for president in 2020, not to deal with problems across the state, which he says include high property taxes.

"What we saw again today was the same old tired message: let's tax and spend more money without dealing with the structural problems that exist in New York State. The governor today proposed billions of dollars in new spending without telling us how he's going to propose closing anywhere from a $4-8 billion gap," Giambra said.

Giambra, a Buffalo native, served as county executive from 2000-2007. Before being elected to that office, he spent nine years on the Buffalo Common Council and nine years as city comptroller. As county executive, he may be best remembered for his "red" and "green" budget proposals in 2005, at a time when the county was undergoing a fiscal crisis. That crisis eventually led to the implementation of a fiscal control board.

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.