Mark Grimm


Astorino & the Paladino-Skelos Tightrope

If Republicans in a deep blue state like New York are to unseat a well-funded Governor, they cannot be at war with each other.

Easier said than done.

A top aide to Republican Governor candidate Rob Astorino, Bill O’Reilly, called Senate Republican co-leader Dean Skelos Governor Andrew Cuomo’s “prison punk” for embracing Cuomo’s agenda.

Ouch. It threw kerosene on the fire involving the difficult tightrope Astorino must walk. The last thing an aide should do is create a problem for his candidate. The Astorino camp has to stand its ground without making it personal.

O’Reilly’s frustration with Senate Republicans is legitimate. They have not provided the strong opposition voice needed to counter the millions of dollars of taxpayer-funded commercials Mr. Cuomo has run to convince New Yorkers things are just great. They’re not. We rank dead last in far too many categories.

Lower taxes, limited government, protection of individual liberty — these are not just slogans. These are big ticket items worth fighting for.

The Senate Republican leadership is focused on self preservation. It’s easy to understand why. New York is getting bluer by the moment and they feel taking credit for success is their best strategy for survival. It hasn’t been working. When a blue state is given a choice between a Democrat and Democrat Lite, it chooses the Democrat.

Astorino must also deal with former GOP Governor candidate Carl Paladino, who insists Astorino must call for the resignations of Skelos and Assembly Republican Leader Brian Kolb. Paladino’s frustrations with New York’s problems are shared by many New Yorkers, but his “my way or the highway” temperament got a test run in 2010 and it ended with 34% of the vote.

Astorino’s tightrope is to be a strong voice for frustrated New Yorkers without alienating the Republican leadership he needs to pull off the upset. The Republican leadership, for its part, needs to talk more about what needs to be fixed.

Rob Astorino has the electoral track record, passion and articulate style to be the leader New York desperately needs. It’s time for all Republicans to start rowing in the same direction.

And, please, drop the name calling.

The writer is a Republican who won a board seat in a Democrat town and once served as a senior aide in the NY State Assembly.

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