Nearly two months after opting not to enter the race for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro told a group of GOP chairs Friday that he is running for governor.
Molinaro declared his candidacy at an event in Saratoga Springs. Republican leaders gathered there to nominate Chele Farley to challenge U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.
A formal announcement hasn't been made by Molinaro's campaign, but Onondaga County Republican Chairman Tom Dadey confirmed the Dutchess County executive and former state assemblyman is in the race.
"He came into the room and announced 'I am a candidate for governor'," Dadey said in a phone interview after Friday's convention.
With Molinaro's entry, there are now three Republicans in the field. The others are state Sen. John DeFrancisco and attorney Joe Holland.
A straw poll was held at the GOP convention. Molinaro won with 55 votes. DeFrancisco, R-DeWitt, finished second with 23 votes. Holland received five votes.
However, Dadey noted that several counties did not have representation at the convention. He said some of the larger counties weren't present for the convention or the straw poll.
There are more than 450 people on the state GOP committee and there were 83 votes cast in the straw poll, which means that less 20 percent of the party's leadership cast votes.
Molinaro's entry could shake up a race for the Republican nomination that appeared to be DeFrancisco's to lose.
Harry Wilson, a corporate restructuring expert who pledged to spend $10 million of his own money if he ran for governor, declined to run. Days after Wilson's announcement, Molinaro said he wouldn't be a candidate for governor.
At the time, Molinaro cited personal reasons for the decision.
With Molinaro and Wilson out of the race, Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb appeared to have the inside track to the nomination. He was securing endorsements after declaring his candidacy in December. But he abruptly dropped out the race in February.
After Kolb's departure, DeFrancisco announced several endorsements from Republican and Conservative party leaders. But some Republicans weren't satisfied and wanted an alternative.
A "Draft Molinaro" campaign started to urge the Dutchess County Republican to reconsider his decision. He acknowledged that he was giving the race another look.
And then came his announcement on Friday to a room of Republican leaders that he was declaring his candidacy for governor.
The Republican convention will be held in May. That's when GOP committee members will choose a candidate for challenge Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo. If a primary is necessary, it will be held in September.