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DeFrancisco, Finch visit State Street Intermediate School classroom to talk about the wood frog

FILE - In this June 2014 photo, Assemblyman Gary Finch, left, and state Sen. John DeFrancisco talk about the wood frog bill with Irene Manna's fourth-grade class at State Street Intermediate School.

One member of Cayuga County's state legislative delegation is supporting another for governor. 

Assemblyman Gary Finch announced he has endorsed state Sen. John DeFrancisco for governor. DeFrancisco, R-DeWitt, is seeking the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the November general election. 

Finch, R-Springport, called DeFrancisco "a principled conservative and a pragmatic problem solver."

"He's the consummate leader," he said. "He is the rare figure in this political moment who can speak his mind and stand up for what's right without alienating people on the other side of the aisle. He excels at building coalitions and getting things done." 

DeFrancisco is one of two Republicans in the race for the party's gubernatorial nomination. The other is Joe Holland, a former official in ex-Gov. George Pataki's administration. 

Since 2013, DeFrancisco has represented most of the city of Auburn and a handful of Cayuga County towns in the state Senate. His Senate district overlaps with Finch's Assembly district, which includes the southern half of Cayuga County and some Onondaga County towns. 

The pair has worked on several issues together. Finch recognized DeFrancisco's work on some of these issues, including the opioid epidemic and Finger Lakes water quality. 

"He never backs down from a challenge," Finch said. "I've truly enjoyed working closely with him over the years." 

If DeFrancisco secures the GOP nomination, he will challenge Cuomo. The incumbent governor is seeking a third term as the state's top executive. He was first elected in 2011. 

It will be difficult for Republicans to win the statewide race. Cuomo has a $30 million campaign war chest and has the power of incumbency on his side. 

But the GOP hopes to capitalize on some of his weaknesses, including the ongoing corruption trial involving Joe Percoco, the governor's former top aide. 

Republicans are expected to meet this spring to nominate a gubernatorial candidate. If a primary is necessary, it will be held in September.