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Cuomo and his challengers all hold events

Michael Mroziak

Challengers to Gov. Andrew Cuomo were on the campaign trail Thursday, as the governor announced a massive new anti poverty program in Brooklyn. Democratic candidate Cynthia Nixon visited the Finger Lakes to voice her opposition to a controversial proposed liquefied natural gas plant on Seneca Lake.

The gas company Crestwood wants to store liquid propane gas in caverns created from salt mining along Seneca Lake. They are awaiting a decision from Cuomo’s Department of Environmental Conservation.

Nixon says if she’s elected governor, she’ll “drive a stake into the heart” of the project, which she says could damage the lake’s water quality. She says she’s also against a proposed garbage burning waste to energy plant in Romulus, just a few miles from the Lake. She says it is completely inappropriate for the state’s “world class” wine region, which she compared to the famous wine regions of California.

“California Governor Jerry Brown would never, ever allow a giant garbage incinerator to be sited in the middle of Napa Valley,” Nixon said. “Why in the world would our governor, Andrew Cuomo, sit idly by and allow this incinerator to be sited  in the heart of the Finger Lakes?”

Nixon says in 2011, Cuomo signed a law that would make it easier for projects like the Romulus plant to get state permits. Nixon says she’d repeal that law.

A spokesman for the Department of Environmental Conservation, Sean Mahar, says a “final determination” has not yet been made on whether to issue the permits for the plant. He did not offer a timetable for a decision. And he said the garbage burning plant is being reviewed by a state siting board, and will “undergo an extensive environmental and public review process”. He says the board has the power to “deny any project that is not protective of public health and the environment”. 

Credit Karen Dewitt / WBFO Albany Correspondent
WBFO Albany Correspondent
Republican Marc Molinaro's campaign quickly gained steam and support.

Cuomo, meanwhile, was in Brooklyn announcing a large scale economic development project that would bring one and half billion dollars to the borough.  It would build over 2000 new affordable housing units, open new health care facilities create new parks and open new farmers markets.

“By the end of 2020 we're going to have it all up and running. It's real, it's happening, it's going to make a difference in the lives of people who've been struggling for too long,” Cuomo said to applause from the audience  invited to the event.

And, Republican candidate for Governor Marc Molinaro stopped in Albany after locking up the Republican nomination for governor. Molinaro received the endorsement of the party leaders in Westchester, Niagara and Albany counties. Molinaro, who was raised by a single mother in modest circumstances, seemed a bit overwhelmed by the milestone.

“I’m humbled,” said Molinaro, who said he’s gone from receiving food stamps as a boy to being the likely nominee of a major political party for governor of New York.

Credit Ellen Abbott / WSKG News
State Sen. John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse) was once considered the front runner for the GOP nomination to take on Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Senate Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco announced earlier in the week that he was suspending his campaign for governor, clearing the way for Molinaro’s nomination at the Republican state convention in May.

“In light of the fact that the majority of GOP county committee chairs have now endorsed Marc Molinaro, and that the door is closing for me to get the Republican nomination to be the GOP candidate for governor, I am not going to be actively campaigning at this time,” DeFrancisco said in a statement. “However, if the GOP committee members reconsider before the Republican Convention, I will be available.”

DeFrancisco had once been considered a front runner for the nomination after wealthy businessman Harry Wilson declined to run and Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb (R-Canandaigua) dropped out. After entering the race, however, Molinaro quickly gained steam. When the state Conservative Party endorsed Molinaro's campaign, DeFrancisco reevaluated his bid.

“It’s a heavily Democrat state," DeFrancisco said. "If the conservatives and the Republicans are not united, it’s tough for anyone to win.”

WSKG's Tom Magnarelli contributed to this story.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. WBFO listeners are accustomed to hearing DeWitt’s insightful coverage throughout the day, including expanded reports on Morning Edition.