Onondaga County Republican Chairman Tom Dadey is upset with some members of his own party after GOP leaders gathered Friday in Saratoga Springs to discuss the state of the gubernatorial race.
The major development at the end of last week was Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro's decision to join the race. Molinaro had announced in January that he wouldn't be a candidate for governor. But he reportedly told GOP leaders Friday that he is running for the party's nomination to challenge Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Molinaro's reversal seemed to rankle Dadey, who supports state Sen. John DeFrancisco for governor.
DeFrancisco, R-DeWitt, has received some endorsements from Republican chairs and committees. But he hasn't won over enough GOP leaders to secure the nomination. There is still time for him to secure their support. The GOP convention won't be held until mid-May, at the earliest.
For weeks, DeFrancisco was viewed as the front-runner for the Republican nomination. Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb had dropped out of the race and Joel Giambra, a former Erie County executive, wasn't gaining any traction. Giambra announced last week that he will attempt to mount an independent campaign for governor instead of seeking the GOP nod.
Joe Holland, an attorney and former Pataki administration official, declared his candidacy for the GOP nomination. But he doesn't appear to have a lot of support among chairs and committee members.
Not long after DeFrancisco appeared to have the inside track to the nomination, some GOP officials urged Molinaro to reconsider. They launched a "Draft Molinaro" campaign — complete with a Twitter account — to make their case.
Molinaro listened. He once again expressed interest in the race and on Friday, he told GOP leaders he is in.
In a phone interview, Dadey expressed his displeasure with how the process has played out.
"I'm not happy with the way (DeFrancisco) has been treated by some in the Republican Party," he said. "He had said last fall that somebody has got to run against Cuomo. Marc Molinaro opted out. Brian Kolb got in, then Brian Kolb got out. DeFran announced in (late January). He's been running around the state for the last month. DeFran is clearly driving Cuomo nuts. DeFran is not afraid to take it to Cuomo."
The results of an unofficial straw poll conducted at Friday's meeting may have contributed to Dadey's feelings about how DeFrancisco has been treated. Molinaro won the poll with 67 percent of the vote. DeFrancisco finished a distant second.
But Republicans acknowledge that the only vote that matters will be held at the convention. For the moment, DeFrancisco and Molinaro are the top contenders for the party's nomination. DeFrancisco has his share of endorsements, but the leaders of the Erie and Suffolk GOP committees — two of the biggest prizes in the weighted vote — are backing Molinaro.
"I think it's going to be an interesting couple of months," Dadey said.