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The Disappointing Rob Astorino

August 11, 2014

On paper, he’s a good candidate. He’s from the key region of the state. He has executive experience. He’s articulate and clearly comfortable with the media.  He even looks the part, including having a picture perfect family.

Rob Astorino was supposed to be competitive. But he is not. And why is that?

A key factor is fundraising. To be taken seriously, Astorino needed to raise about $10 million by the July filing date. He raised only $3 million, and had already spent almost a third of it by the filing date.  This leaves Cuomo with a 10 to 1 fundraising edge, which is virtually insurmountable.

What happened behind the scenes was that Cuomo’s people were working Republican donors for months.  That’s right, the Democratic governor and his campaign staff were reaching out to people on the other side to invite them to be part of the Governor’s fundraising events,  to be, in effect, part of the Cuomo team.

That’s legit. And smart, too. Who, having received such a call, would ignore the Governor, especially when he’s ahead by 30 plus points?

Without funds, Astorino has been unable to develop the right image. You do that with experts who craft TV ads that are tested and retested for just the right effect.

Of course, Astorino is  trying to project himself,  but he’s missed the mark so far. In this regard, his basic message — “New York is losing” – is immediately understandable, but the way he delivers it in videos and in public is problematic.

He and his people probably don’t get this, but he was made to be affirmative and upbeat. That’s his best persona. When he does that, he’s appealing and likable. He actually makes a connection with people.

But when he goes negative, he comes off as mousy, whiny, condescending  and snarky. Instead of giving voice to millions of New Yorkers who are struggling and frustrated, he leaves them flat or feeling like he’s running down their state.

There’s an opening for him with his messaging, but not until he gets the tone right.

Tonal things have been and continue to be a problem for Astorino.

It wasn’t a good idea for him to speak at anti-SAFE Act rallies. Appearing with those people doesn’t bring him anything he didn’t already have.

He shouldn’t be complaining about Republicans who won’t support him. It only draws more attention to the problem.

He trivializes himself and the race by challenging the Governor to dump ice water on his head.

In addition to the fundraising problem and the awkward messaging, there’s an astounding lack of activity by Astorino.  A serious candidate for statewide office is like a professional baseball player. You suit up every day. You play hard every day.  But Astorino isn’t doing that. Today marks his first public appearance in more than a week, and what is he doing today? He’s visiting the Delaware County Fair in Walton on a night when they are running a demolition derby.

We had wanted Astorino to amount to something more than this. We wanted him to offer a real challenge to Cuomo – in the hopes that Cuomo would raise his game. It’s disappointing that there’s no real contest at all.


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