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DeFrancisco to stop actively campaigning for governor

Ellen Abbott
WRVO News File Photo
State Sen. John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse) was once considered the front runner for the GOP nomination to take on Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

State Sen. John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse) announced Wednesday that he will no longer actively campaign for governor. The announcement came after an increasing number of Republican county chairs in New York endorsed Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro.

“In light of the fact that the majority of GOP county committee chairs have now endorsed Marc Molinaro, and that the door is closing for me to get the Republican nomination to be the GOP candidate for governor, I am not going to be actively campaigning at this time,” DeFrancisco said in a statement. “However, if the GOP committee members reconsider before the Republican Convention, I will be available.”

Several GOP chairs who had already given their endorsements to DeFrancisco switched sides in recent days – including chairmen in Oswego, Oneida, Madison and Jefferson counties. Oswego County GOP Chairman Fred Beardsley says he was conflicted about the decision, but says the “handwriting is on the wall.”

“It’s obvious that he’s gaining support across the state,” Beardsley said. “We have two good candidates. I think the important thing here is for us to change the direction of New York state and for us to do that, we need to stand behind one candidate and support him.”

DeFrancisco had once been considered a front runner for the nomination after wealthy businessman Harry Wilson declined to run and Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb (R-Canandaigua) dropped out. Molinaro also declined to run, but that did not dissuade some state Republican leaders from throwing their support behind him. In early March, Molinaro was chosen as the party's preferred candidate in an informal straw poll at a meeting of GOP leaders - several weeks before his campaign launched. 

After entering the race, Molinaro quickly gained steam, picking up support across the state. He gained the advantage over DeFrancisco when the New York State Conservative Party endorsed his campaign. That led DeFrancisco to reevaluate his bid. 

"Realistically if you don't have a united Republican Party and you don't have that candidate with the Conservative Party endorsement as well, it's one thing thinking you can win and wanting to run to change the direction of the state - then you have to be practical too," DeFrancisco said. "It's a heavily Democrat state. If the conservatives and the Republicans are not united, it's tough for anyone to win."

The GOP will officially nominate a candidate to challenge incumbent Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo in May.

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.