Top NYS GOP operative set to head-up Astorino’s Exploratory Committee staff
Counsel to Donald Trump poo-poos the news
According to a post by Liz Benjamin, “Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino is taking yet another step closer to a full blown challenge to Gov. Andrew Cuomo by opening an exploratory committee and poaching a staffer from the state GOP to run it....” (See “Astorino Opening Exploratory Committee, Staffing Up for Possible Gov Run (Updated x2)”
by Liz Benjamin, 2/3/14, State of Politics [http://www.nystateofpolitics.com/2014/02/astorino-opening-exploratory-committee-staffing-up-for-possible-gov-run/]).
Giving Benjamin’s story even more heft is the confirmation by Astorino’s spokeswoman Jessica Proud that an exploratory committee was indeed well into the process of formation, and that the make up of that committee is expected to be completed by the end of the week. “He is taking the appropriate steps to prepare for a statewide campaign,” Proud said of Astorino's move to formalize his emerging campaign. Ms. Proud further indicated that NYS GOP Executive Director Michael Lawler will be departing his party post to take over running the exploratory committee on Astorino’s behalf. About Mr Lawler’s selection, Proud added, “We need someone right now to be responsible for day-to-day organization, and Mike is someone that would be great at that.”.
Liz Benjamin specifically noted that “Astorino’s selection of Lawler will no doubt raise a few eyebrows inside the state GOP, since it further solidifies the belief that the county executive is state Party Chairman Ed Cox’s favored candidate.”
The announcement was quickly minimized by a spokesman of one of Mr. Astorino’s possible rivals for the nomination to be the GOP candidate for Governor. Donald Trump’s counsel Michael Cohen expressed his opinion that "The setting up of an exploratory committee changes nothing for Mr. Trump..." in a telephone interview reported on by Ken Lovett for the Daily News ( See ““Donald Trump Aide: Rob Astorino's Exploratory Committee 'Means Nothing' ”
by Ken Lovett, 2/3/14, Daily News/ Daily Politics [http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/dailypolitics/2014/02/donald-trump-aide-rob-astorinos-exploratory-committee-means-nothing]).
Lovett’s article highlighted the view of Trump’s counsel that Astorino's move to form an exploratory committee and hire as a top staffer somebody who had been close to state GOP Chairman Ed Cox to oversee it does not mean Astorino is running. “He's going to waste a handful of dollars in order to learn what he already knows--and that is he does not have the backing of the majority of Republican leaders and he cannot defeat Cuomo. The only one who can defeat Cuomo, and easily, is Donald Trump,” said Trump’s man Cohen.
Ken Lovett finished his post/article with this important back ground about any possible Trump candidacy: “Trump has said he will not run if the Republican party does not clear a path for the nomination. The Donald has threatened in the past to run for governor and president without every following through. Many Republicans believe he will again eschew a run even as Trump says he is seriously considering getting into the race.”