State Sen. John DeFrancisco has won the support of the Republican chair from one of the counties he represents as he continues his bid for the GOP gubernatorial nomination.
Cherl Heary, chairwoman of the Cayuga County Republican Committee, announced Tuesday that she has endorsed DeFrancisco, R-DeWitt, for governor. She is the 17th GOP county chair to support DeFrancisco's gubernatorial bid.
DeFrancisco represents the 50th Senate District, which includes most of the city of Auburn and the towns of Brutus, Cato, Ira and Sennett in Cayuga County.
"I'm proud to endorse John DeFrancisco for governor," Heary said in a statement. "He is the only candidate capable of defeating Andrew Cuomo in November. We need a strong leader — someone who will fight for the people of upstate New York. John DeFrancisco is that leader."
DeFrancisco launched his campaign for governor in January and appeared to be the front-runner for the Republican nomination after Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, who was the first GOP candidate in the race, dropped out last month.
More than a dozen chairs endorsed DeFrancisco, including Onondaga County Republican Chairman Tom Dadey. But some Republicans pushed for another candidate to get into the race.
Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, who announced in January that he wouldn't seek the GOP nomination for governor, was asked to reconsider. He reversed his position on the race and informed county chairs at a recent meeting that he would seek the nomination after all.
Since Molinaro's entry, he has received endorsements from nearly 30 county chairs representing more than 46 percent of the weighted vote. The 17 chairs supporting DeFrancisco account for more than 18 percent of the weighted vote at the convention.
DeFrancisco isn't giving up on the race. There are two months to go until the convention and a few big counties are up for grabs, including Nassau and Westchester. And while it's unlikely, there is a possibility some committee members may break with their chair and vote for another candidate.
The GOP convention will be held in May.
Republican leaders are hoping to avoid a primary so the party can focus on defeating Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat who is seeking a third term this year.