BUFFALO, N.Y. — There's roughly a half a dozen Republican candidates currently considering challenging Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2018.
"The great common denominator here is that almost all the candidates, as well as many of the party leaders, feel that the governor is very vulnerable and open to defeat," Erie County GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy said.
Langworthy had nice things to say about many of them, including Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb and State Senate Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco. Talking with the chairman though, one name seems to continue to surface above the others.
"I don't endorse candidates until they announce themselves but I'm very much interested in seeing Harry Wilson get into this race," he said
Langworthy said the Westchester County businessman has a strong background, including leading an auto industry task force in 2009 following the federal bailout. He said the potential for Wilson to at least partially self-fund his campaign adds to the appeal.
On the Capitol Pressroom radio show Monday, Kolb suggested money isn't everything. Langworthy agreed to an extent, but says the party needs to draw closer to parity than it has in the past.
"The governor starts this race at $25 million. We don't have to spend dollar-for-dollar what the governor has. I think Rob Astorino showed us in 2014 that," he said.
Monroe County Chairman Bill Reilich also said money will be one of several factors, but he hasn't made a decision on who to support yet.
"I don't want to say I support candidate X and then January 1, Candidate X says ‘I'm not running.’ So I'd rather consider who I'm going to support once they commit that they're running," he said.
Reilich said upstate Republicans will have a strong voice though.
"If you take Erie County and Monroe County together, it's about 25 percent of the weighted vote, and as you know, you only need 51 percent to nominate a candidate," he said.
Langworthy said a costly primary does not make sense, but believes some of the candidates who don't end up running for governor could take on the Democratic attorney general or comptroller.