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September 26, 2014

We want to make another attempt to influence Mr. Astorino. We know some people close to him read our humble blog. We’ve corresponded with them, and tried to suggest that our criticism, although sharp, is constructive.

In this regard, we believe Astorino is hurting himself. We think the damage is being done not just in this election cycle but for his future as well. Plan B for Astorino was always that he could make a good showing in ‘14 and have a leg up in ‘18.

But it’s not working out that way. As he’s slowly becoming known by New Yorkers, his negatives are rising. To the extent that the Astorino people acknowledge this, they blame Cuomo’s harsh ads. Those ads are indeed everywhere, but the ads aren’t the real problem. People actually take political ads with a grain of salt. They really do.

The real problem is what Astorino is saying and doing.

First, he has this habit of taking shots at his fellow Republicans who continue to work with Cuomo for pragmatic reasons. He has a running, one-sided feud with Chris Christie because he won’t get involved in New York politics.  He recently insulted members of the state Business Council over their failure to denounce Cuomomics. And, even more troublesome, Astorino and his people are always saying disparaging things about Republican state lawmakers who, in their view, are still “in bed” with Cuomo.

It has to be extremely frustrating for Astorino not to receive more enthusiastic support from party members and natural allies. But you’re not supposed to show that frustration. It’s bad form. A lot of prominent Republicans feel that Astorino simply hasn’t handled this well. They say he isn’t “mature” about it.

If we could talk to Astorino alone for a moment, we’d beg him not to let this be a lasting impression of his campaign: “You’ll be dead politically if the takeaway is that you weren’t mature enough to run a good race.  Yes, you want to have some fight in you. You can be feisty. But you can’t always hit back against your own party members because they disappoint you. That is, indeed, immature.”

The other major problem facing Astorino is this: The main construct of his campaign simply isn’t working.  “Is New York winning or is it losing? Oh, it’s losing. It’s losing.”  This is what Astorino has been saying since the start of the campaign. He’s saying it ever more adamantly even as the state unemployment rate drops and as every recent economic ranking shows that the state is gaining. Astoundingly, he has appeared in Buffalo, which is in the midst of a real turnaround, and he’s told people there that it is all “smoke and mirrors.”

Again, if we had Mr. Astorino in a room alone, we’d implore him on this point: “You’ve got to come off of this construct. You’ve got to find a different way to make your point. You’re turning people off.  Every time you say the state is losing, it’s like you are telling New Yorkers that they are a bunch of losers. This construct might work with some bitter and angry people, but it’s not what most New Yorkers want to hear. Not at all.  People want an affirmative message. They want hope.  But your whole campaign is negative and it’s killing you not just for this campaign cycle but for the future as well.”

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