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Nearing start of 2014 campaign season, Cuomo yet to have an announced opponent

Ryan Delaney
File photo

Now that this year’s elections are over, the political world is gearing up for the 2014 contests. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to seek another term, and so far no one has officially said they will run against him.  

Cuomo sounded like he was in campaign mode the day after Election Day, when he celebrated the passage of a casino gambling amendment that he pushed.

“Are we fired up?” Cuomo asked a cheering crowd.

Cuomo focused on an important issue for any candidate - economic development - which he says the new casinos will bring.

“This is a huge, huge win for the state of New York,” Cuomo declared.

It will be weeks before the governor makes an official announcement on any reelection plans. But already, the chair of the state’s Republican Party is criticizing Cuomo and his management style.

GOP Chairman Ed Cox delivered a scathing speech in Buffalo, calling the governor a “risk averse, calculating politician,” who appoints too many commissions, then controls them behind the scenes.

Cox spoke at a natural gas industry lobby meeting, where he said Cuomo was dithering on a decision about allowing hydrofracking in New York by saying he’s waiting for his health commissioner to finish a review.  

“If you believe that, I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn that I’ll sell you for a very modest sum,” Cox said.

Polls show the public is evenly split on fracking, and its unlikely Cuomo will decide before the 2014 elections.

A spokesman for the state’s Democratic Party, which the governor heads, issued a response calling Cox’s speech part of a "tea party tour." Spokesman Rodney Capel also insulted Cox’s late father-in-law, saying Cox’s tactics are straight out of the playbook of former President Richard Nixon.

So far, Republicans don’t have a candidate to face Cuomo in next year’s election. Possible names mentioned include Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, who until Election Day was busy seeking another term in office, which he successfully won.

In an interview with the New York Post, Astorino said he’s considering a run.

Meanwhile, the Buffalo News reports that 2010 GOP candidate Carl Paladino, who ultimately lost to Cuomo, continues to say he might run again on the Conservative Party line. Paladino, a businessman with tea party associations, threatened to become a candidate if the GOP does not choose someone that Paladino feels is sufficiently conservative.   

Steve Greenberg, a spokesman for Siena College, which polls extensively on political races, says the GOP will need someone at the top of the ticket soon.

“It is going to become incumbent upon the Republicans over the course of the next month or two to really start identifying candidates,” Greenberg said.  

To make things even harder for the GOP, Cuomo may be stealing a traditional Republican issue for next year’s race. Cuomo has said that some kind of tax cuts will be on his agenda in 2014. He’s even tapped a former GOP governor, George Pataki, to head his tax cutting commission. It will report back in December.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.