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Molinaro takes fight to Cuomo deep into farm country

Sun Community News
Pete Demola
July 23, 2018

WILLSBORO | Marc Molinaro has had a busy summer, alternating between news conferences excoriating state corruption and traveling upstate meeting with farmers and regular voters.

The Republican gubernatorial candidate stumped in Willsboro on Saturday, bringing his core campaign issues deep into farm country.

New Yorkers are overtaxed, contends Molinaro, leading to an exodus of jobs and young people.

Overregulation strangles job growth, and Albany is in dire need of ethics reform following a string of corruption convictions surrounding the state’s flagship economic development programs.

“Are we just going to accept this as the way it is, or are we going to say enough is enough?” Molinaro told The Sun. “Because I have not been to a region where families, individuals or voters don’t recognize the governor has made a mockery of democracy and has bended the rules consistently to benefit himself politically.”

Cuomo has not been accused of any wrongdoing in the criminal schemes that ultimately saw the conviction of former aide Joseph Percoco on corruption charges and Alain Kaloyeros, who was found guilty of bid-rigging in connection with the “Buffalo Billion” project.

CROSS-ENDORSED
Molinaro, the Dutchess County executive, spent Friday in St. Lawrence County, where he picked up an endorsement from Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-Willsboro).

“He understands the economic challenges of upstate New York,” Stefanik told The Sun. “He understands the need to have fundamental ethics reform in Albany, and I think he’s an example of the new generation of leadership we need in the state.”

Molinaro was equally effusive.

“There are a lot of folks that talk about a blue wave,” he said. “Well, she’s the new wave of leadership.”
The two appeared at the Essex County Republican Committee Pig Roast on Saturday.

Molinaro and Stefanik delivered comments alongside other GOP officials — including state Assemblyman Dan Stec and state Senator Betty Little — surrounded by a bucolic landscape of rolling fields and red barns.

Stefanik has had a contentious relationship with Cuomo, who has spent the past 18 months attacking Republican members of the state’s congressional delegation, lashing lawmakers in apocalyptic language for trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the tax bill, gun control and other measures coming out of Washington, D.C. — even calling on lawmakers to resign at one point.

“I think it shows his lack of ability to work with the New York delegation on issues like the mandates that are pushed down to the counties,” Stefanik said. “That’s something we really need to get under control in New York state because that obviously has an impact on issues like health care when we’re voting for that.”

MEDICAID COSTS

Molinaro said Cuomo, who is frequently mentioned as a 2020 Democratic presidential contender, is too focused on injecting himself into the national discussion.

“In the process, he’s discarding and overlooking hardworking taxpayers who need a governor who’s going to respect them and listen to them, and I’ll be that governor.”

Stefanik echoed Molinaro’s criticisms of the state’s high property tax burden, and pinned blame directly on the governor, who is seeking a third term.

“It obviously highlights the failure of Gov. Cuomo to reign in our taxes and the pressure on the counties,” Stefanik said. “That’s why I think Marc would be a much more effective partner with the New York delegation, both Republicans and Democrats.”

As governor, Cuomo has implemented a two percent property tax cap and has required counties to convene panels to probe for possible shared services.

But counties continue to complain over Medicaid costs.

Local governments in New York foot the highest share of Medicaid costs than anywhere in the country.

Once 25 percent, the county share has dropped to 13 percent, and the state pays 36 percent.

Upstate counties collectively pay $2.3 billion annually for their share of the $70 billion program, and the number exceeds 50 percent of the property tax burden in many counties.

Molinaro supports fully relieving counties of Medicaid burdens, a measure proposed by Reps. John Faso and Chris Collins last spring in the heat of the battle to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

“I don’t believe in mandates, I believe in outcomes, and what this governor has allowed to happen is the state forces more state spending on to local property taxpayers than any state in America, which means local property taxes — school taxes — are unnecessarily high,” Molinaro said.

Molinaro also criticized Cuomo for referring to local officials’ concerns regarding the proposal as “baloney.”
“It’s that kind of behavior and attitude that I think people have had enough of, but more importantly, you’ll never accomplish anything great,” Molinaro said. “You can’t bring people together if you’re going to dismiss those with whom you disagree, and he’s had a long history of doing that.”

UPHILL FIGHT

Molinaro has been a frequent visitor to the North Country, having last touched down in April, where he made stops in Willsboro and Plattsburgh.

Earlier this year, he waffled on if he was going to run for governor and credited Regional Vice Chair of the New York State Republican Party for the North Country Shaun Gillilland for twisting his arm.

“I had traveled the state for two years thinking that I was going to run for governor, and then I decided I wasn’t going to run for governor,” Molinaro told attendees on Saturday. “And when I told Shaun and a few others that I had decided not to, my phone started to ring and most of the time, it was your chairman — so much so that my wife began to know his name, which is good for me and bad for him.”

Molinaro continued: “I tell my wife it’s because of this chairman that I’m running for governor, which means she dislikes him a lot.”

The crowd laughed.

“We can’t keep swimming in that cesspool of corruption,” Gillilland said.

The Cuomo campaign did not respond for comment.

Since President Trump tapped Brett Kavanaugh to fill the Supreme Court seat of the outgoing Anthony Kennedy, the governor has been pushing the state Senate to reconvene to codify Roe. v. Wade into state law, hammering Republicans in the process.

“Betty Little and the senate Republicans are the last thing standing between us and a philosophy that says ‘all things can be solved by government,’” Molinaro said. “They’re the backstop between them and common sense upstate and those who can think we can tax spend and borrow more than we should and we need her and her colleagues back in the state Senate.”

Libertarian Party candidate Larry Sharpe, Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins and Stephanie Miner, an independent, are also running.

Molinaro faces an uphill battle to unseat Cuomo, who is also fending off a primary challenge from Cynthia Nixon.
The governor has raised $6 million this quarter compared to about $1 million for Molinaro.
A Quinnipiac University poll released last week reveals Cuomo would lead Molinaro 43 to 23 percent in a six-way general election matchup.

In a two-way race, Cuomo leads 57 to 31 percent.

Among all voters statewide, Cuomo’s approval rate is slipping.

The governor’s job approval is 49 percent, compared to 54 percent in early May

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