Marc Molinaro is thinking about a run for statewide office. He just isn't quite ready to talk about it yet.
The Republican Dutchess County executive said Friday what he has been saying for months: It's still too early to really dive into whether he will run for governor in 2018.
Rather, for now he is having lighthearted fun with those who already want to install him as the Republican nominee.
He emailed supporters on Friday a tongue-in-cheek list of 10 grievances to kick off Festivus, the humorous anti-Christmas made popular by the television show "Seinfeld" that is celebrated on Dec. 23. "The airing of grievances" is a Festivus tradition.
The list included how difficult it is to score tickets to a Billy Joel show at Madison Square Garden, New York's tax burden ("amirite folks?" he added) and the argument over where upstate begins (Poughkeepsie, he says).
Also on that list: "How early you need to start thinking about running in a statewide (race)."
With retiring U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson announcing in the spring he wouldn't seek the governor's office despite growing support, Molinaro's name became more than just a whisper in GOP circles. Also mentioned as possible candidates are 2014 candidate Rob Astorino, the Westchester County executive; former comptroller candidate Harry Wilson; and even 2010 candidate Carl Paladino, who co-chaired President-elect Donald Trump's New York campaign operations (and once tried to get him to run for governor, too). (Controversy that enveloped Paladino over remarks he made about the Obamas on Friday seriously throws into questions his chances, though).
"We just went through a year and a half of what I think universally could be considered the least optimistic, enthusiastic, hopeful election we've ever been through," Molinaro said with a hearty laugh when reached by phone Friday morning. "It seems to me we've been through a year and a half of that and people immediately want to move to the next campaign. Can we breathe first?"
"Although to be fair, it's not too early to think about it," he added. "I do think it's too early to talk about it."
There is good reason to at least think about running in an election that is two years away: the increasing disparity between Democratic and Republican enrollment statewide.
Building name recognition is incredibly difficult in a more-than-two-to-one Democratic state, especially for Republicans competing against a prolific fundraiser on the Democratic side.
Just ask Astorino. Even in a low turnout year in which Republicans made gains in the state Senate, Astorino lost to Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2014 by 532,403 votes. The disparity was driven in large part by Democratic votes from New York City.
Molinaro has undertaken a personal initiative that also is a small step toward building recognition outside the Hudson Valley. He has traveled further upstate to discuss his #WeThinkDIFFERENTLY initiative supporting those with special needs.
And while Molinaro may not quite be ready to have a full-throated discussion about if overcoming those kind of long odds is for him in 2018, he said he does believe he has something to bring to the state if an opportunity to lead at the statewide level arises.
"I'm absolutely thinking about statewide office, but I do it in the context of the advice my granddad gave me," he said. "He wasn't in politics, he delivered the mail in Yonkers. His opinion was you do your job well and you'll be considered for a promotion."
firstname.lastname@example.org • 518-454-5449 • @matt_hamilton10