ALBANY — The Republicans have their first official candidate to run for governor next year: Brian Kolb, the Assembly GOP leader from the Finger Lakes region.
Kolb, 65, made his decision public Tuesday morning, telling a Rochester radio station he is running while opening a new twitter account to promote his candidacy.
Kolb is among several Republicans who have been talking of challenging Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who most Democrats and Republicans expect to run for a third term in 2018. Cuomo has said he plans to run, and he has been on another fundraising tear in recent weeks, including his annual birthday party Thursday night in Manhattan, where “chairs” of the event are being asked to donate $50,000 to Cuomo in order to attend.
Others on the GOP gubernatorial possibility list include businessman Harry Wilson, Senate Deputy Leader John DeFrancisco of the Syracuse area and Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro. Former Erie County Executive Joel Giambra is eyeing a run, the Buffalo News reported this weekend; the lobbyist’s boss, former U.S. Sen. Al Damato, however, is tight with Cuomo and so it is uncertain how serious Giambra actually is about a statewide bid.
Kolb, a resident of Canandaigua, joined the Assembly in 2000 and was elected minority leader in 2009. He represents Ontario County and parts of Seneca County.
A number of Democrats, including outgoing Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, are eyeing possible primary bids against Cuomo.
Though flush with campaign cash and in charge of a Democratic Party that has a two-to-one enrollment edge over Republicans in New York, Cuomo is being seen by critics as vulnerable with voters who, they believe, have grown weary of him after two terms.
Further, Cuomo would be seeking a third term in a year the state budget is looking at growing red ink and two corruption trials are scheduled of people close to Cuomo charged with bribery and extortion schemes involving several high-profile projects, including the Buffalo Billion program.