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Marc Molinaro's 'Two Cathedrals' moment

You could call it a cryptic tweet. But it was Marc Molinaro's way of saying, "I'm running for governor."

Before he informed state Republican leaders on Friday that he's running for governor, the Dutchess County executive took to Twitter to share a link. The post directed his 4,800-plus followers to a five-minute video clip of "The West Wing's" season two finale, "Two Cathedrals."

The episode follows President Josiah Bartlet (played by Martin Sheen) as he reveals that he has multiple sclerosis. His staff says they need an answer on whether he will seek re-election. As the episode progresses, the decision is revealed: Bartlet won't seek a second term.

What the five-minute clip shows is Bartlet's evolution on the re-election question. The episode ends with a cliffhanger: Bartlet cracking a smirk as he looks out at the dozens of journalists who gathered for a press conference. (Spoiler alert: "The West Wing's" third season opens with Bartlet saying he will run for re-election.)

Molinaro's decision to run for governor came two months after he said he wouldn't be a candidate for the Republican nomination. In interviews after the announcement, he cited personal reasons for not formally launching a gubernatorial bid. He declined to elaborate on what those personal reasons were and what factors led to the decision.

It was a surprising decision because Molinaro had spent months exploring a run for governor. In October, he submitted paperwork to create the Molinaro for New York campaign committee. He was taking the necessary steps to become a candidate for governor.

After announcing in January that he wouldn't run for governor, the field was narrowed to Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, state Sen. John DeFrancisco and former Erie County Executive Joel Giambra. But Kolb, R-Canandaigua, abruptly dropped out of the race in February.

Kolb's departure left DeFrancisco, R-DeWitt, as the apparent favorite in the race. Giambra, who announced last week that he would no longer seek the GOP nomination and would attempt to mount an independent campaign for governor, wasn't a threat in the nomination fight. There hasn't been a groundswell of support for attorney Joe Holland, a late entry in the race.

But some Republicans asked Molinaro to reconsider his decision. A "Draft Molinaro" campaign urged the Dutchess County Republican to give the race another look.

There was chatter in the days leading up to the state Republicans' U.S. Senate convention last week that Molinaro would enter the race. At the convention, he met with a group of Republican chairs and state committee members. He informed them that he is now a candidate for governor.

A straw poll was held at the convention. The three GOP candidates in the race — DeFrancisco, Holland and Molinaro — were on the ballot. While only a fraction of the state Republican leaders voted in the straw poll, Molinaro won by a wide margin.

The race for the Republican nomination could be decided at the party's convention in May. State GOP Chairman Ed Cox previously said the candidates agreed to avoid a primary. But that was after Molinaro initially announced he wouldn't be a gubernatorial candidate.

With Molinaro's entry, the race is wide open. DeFrancisco has collected endorsements from GOP chairs across the state. Molinaro, though, has his share of supporters. One of his key backers is Erie County Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy. Langworthy represents the largest Republican committee in upstate New York.

The process has been messy for Republicans. But with Molinaro they may have the candidate who can energize the GOP and mount a serious challenge to Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

In "The West Wing," Bartlet went on to win re-election by a comfortable margin. The path to victory won't be easy for Molinaro. But we'll find out over the next several months whether he can pull off what would surely be a stunning upset. ​

Canines compete at all-breed dog show in Cayuga County town of Locke

LOCKE — Heather Gould believes dog shows are showcases for the art and science of genetics.

Gould, at an all-breed match dog show in Locke Saturday with her miniature American shepherd, Gadget, said she has been breeding dogs since 1989 and began entering competitions a decade later. 

"When (dogs) are well put together, their movement is poetry in motion, their structure is just amazing to look at," Gould said. "I like dogs that take my breath away, and I think art should do that."

Gallery: Locke all-breed dog show

Plenty of four-legged canvases for that art and science could be seen at the show, hosted by the Finger Lakes Kennel Club. Debi Howe, co-chair for the competition, said that around 40 people entered their dogs for the event, held at the grounds for the Locke Fire Station. Judges examine factors such as a dog's coat, its teeth, and how well it follows commands, Howe said. Howe said the show is "like a practice run" for contestants before they go out to more formal competitive events.

One of the many contests held Saturday was for puppies three to six months old, in which Madison Ploof and her German pinscher, Sheldon, entered the ring. Ploof, moving slightly ahead as Sheldon followed from one side of the ring to the other. Once the duo made it the other side, Ploof said, "It's OK," and got down to eye level with her companion, hugging Sheldon and kissing his head.

Before that showing, show newcomer Beth Plocharczyk brushed the coat of her Finnish spitz, Gull, as the puppy's head darted around the room, occasionally releasing a bark while moving around his owner. At one point, Gull laid on the floor when Plocharczyk prepared to give the dog some bits of chicken.

Plocharczyk said the bog's breeder mentioned they hoped Gull would compete, so she decided to give dog shows a shot. She said she had done a little research into shows beforehand but generally was just having a good time with her "best friend" Gull. In the showing for puppies, Gull stayed silent but moved around while Plocharczyk used her leash to stop the dog from getting too far. Gull earned a fourth-place ribbon. Plocharczyk said that while shows are new terrain for her, she still felt she did well.

Henry and Kathy Clark came to play with their Great Danes, Gracie and Cleo. While Henry took Cleo, who is two months old, up into a competition for younger pups. Kathy said she and Henry have been going to shows for a few months, taking the dogs to obedience classes and handling classes twice a week.

Henry and Cleo came back to Kathy with a pink first-place ribbon. Kathy darted the first-time show dog's face with kisses. Kathy said training and shows allows the humans and animals alike to learn.

"It's not just just about training the dogs, it's about training the person to train the dog," Kathy Clark said.

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Yates County eyes portion of del Lago, Tioga Downs casino tax payments

After losing tax payments in one gaming region, Yates County is hoping to join another. 

A bill introduced by state Sen. Thomas O'Mara would add the county to Region 5 for gaming purposes. The region consists of Broome, Seneca, Tioga and Tompkins counties. Portions of Chemung, Schuyler and Wayne counties east of Route 14 are also in the region. 

O'Mara, R-Big Flats, said in a phone interview Friday that he authored the legislation after discussions with Yates County officials. County leaders questioned why they weren't included in Region 5 like other counties along the Route 14 corridor. 

"It's an effort to make them the same," O'Mara said. 

Region 5 is home to two casinos, del Lago Resort & Casino in Seneca County and Tioga Downs Casino in Tioga County. If Yates is added to the region, it would receive a share of both casinos' tax payments. 

Casinos pay a 37 percent tax on slot machine revenue and 10 percent on table game revenue. The state keeps 80 percent of the tax revenues for education aid and property tax relief. Ten percent of the funds are shared by the casino's host municipality and host county. The remaining 10 percent is given to the non-host counties in the region. 

The percentage each non-host county receives is based on its population. For Chemung, Schuyler and Wayne counties, the formula uses the population in each county that is east of Route 14. 

The push to add Yates to Region 5 began after the county stopped receiving payments from the Seneca Indian Nation. The county is currently in Region 6, which falls within the Senecas' exclusive gaming zone designated by the state. 

Records show that from mid-2014 through the first quarter of 2017, Yates County received $413,818.01 from the state Gaming Commission. The payments were the county's share of the Senecas' gaming revenue. 

Once the Senecas stopped the payments at the end of 2016, Yates and other counties lost a revenue source. 

Yates County Treasurer Winona Flynn said in a phone interview Tuesday that the Senecas' payments helped offset county taxes. 

"For Yates County, that is a lot of money for us to lose," she said. 

After the Senecas' payments halted, Flynn contacted the state to determine why the county was excluded from Region 5 despite having some land east of Route 14. She thought the county should be eligible considering other counties along the Route 14 corridor that neighbor Yates are part of the region. 

The current version of O'Mara's bill calls for removing Yates County from Region 6 and placing the entire county in Region 5. But he said he's in the process of amending the bill to place only the portion of Yates County east of Route 14 in Region 5. 

Like Flynn, O'Mara isn't sure why the county wasn't included in Region 5 from the start. 

"I think it would definitely be beneficial for the county," he said. "I haven't gotten a real straight answer as to why it wasn't done that way to begin with. We're trying to figure that out. We're trying to figure out what the benefit of those revenues might be." 

If Yates is added to Region 5, it likely won't receive the same amount it was getting from the Senecas. Flynn said Yates' share of the tribe's gaming revenues was approximately $140,000 a year. The county's average quarterly share was more than $34,000.

With only a sliver of Yates east of Route 14, the county's share of the del Lago and Tioga Downs tax payments would likely be considerably less. 

Flynn acknowledged that the county would be "better off" if the state can reach an agreement with the Senecas, but that doesn't appear likely. Last year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo threatened to allow construction of a non-Indian casino in Niagara Falls not far from one of the Senecas' casinos. 

In the absence of an agreement between the state and the Senecas, Yates views Region 5 as its best opportunity get some gaming revenue. 

"Getting a little bit is better than nothing," Flynn said.