In the previous two governor's races, this editorial board has endorsed the eventual winner and current office holder, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, citing his ability to get things done in a state capitol that for decades was stuck in partisan gridlock. We also were less than impressed by the candidates who were challenging the governor during those races.
Four years since the last governor's race, much has happened, and much of it has raised serious concerns about whether Democrat Cuomo remains the best person to lead this state.
The big issue is corruption in the executive branch. Cuomo's signature economic development programs have been tainted by fraud and favoritism. The governor has tried to claim the criminal convictions of one of his closest friends and top aides, along with one of his senior economic development figures, had nothing to do with him, but that's simply beyond belief. At worst, he was in the loop on the corruption and went along with it. At best, he was incompetent in overseeing some of the most important decisions being made in New York's economic development program.
There's also a huge problem with Cuomo's leadership style. He's inaccessible and often condescending. Some may say this is just a media gripe, since the governor is often hostile toward the press. But the governor's 2018 campaign is a prime example his lack of interest in engaging with New York voters. He's provided virtually no vision for what he would like to do in the next four years, and instead of getting out on the trail and meeting with residents throughout the state, he's been putting most of his public appearance energy into interviews with national media outlets about national issues or making quick-stop economic development announcements timed to boost his profile.
All of that said, we don't believe in the "anybody but" approach to choosing a governor. In the past, we simply didn't see candidates who demonstrated they were more deserving than Cuomo.
That has changed this year. Republican candidate Marc Molinaro has a strong executive track record leading Dutchess County since 2012, with his elected office roots in village government before he also served in the Capitol as a state assemblyman.
Moreover, Molinaro, unlike his challenger, has actively campaigned throughout the state with clear, common-sense proposals, including his detailed plans for addressing Albany's corruption culture and a concrete proposal for generating property tax relief through real mandate relief on local governments.
Molinaro's also far from an extremist. In fact, some of the more far-right members of his party have been chastising him for not being "conservative" enough. We heard similar complaints for years about Republican Gov. George Pataki, but New Yorkers appreciated his approach enough to elect him three times.
We also believe there's a slate of third-party candidates that deserve serious voter consideration. Ultimately, though, Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins and Libertarian Larry Sharpe have a glaring lack of elected office and high-level management experience to trust them with the executive branch of New York state government. Independent candidate Stephanie Miner, the former Syracuse mayor, has the experience box checked pretty well, but when we look at whether she left Syracuse better off than when she started, we don't find evidence of much success.
In the end, we believe one candidate emerges as the clear choice, and in 2018, that candidate is Marc Molinaro.