Friday, March 3, 2017

A Call to Action: Serving Notice to Rob Astorino That His Re-election Bid This Fall Will Be a Battle

Westchester (NY) County Executive Rob Astorino, a Republican, believes he has a grand political future.  He was elected in 2009, defeating Democratic incumbent Andrew Spano, 57/43, and was re-elected in 2013, defeating Noam Bramson 56/44.  In 2014, Astorino challenged New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo and did respectably, losing 54/40.  Cuomo’s term will be up in 2018 and it is likely that Astorino will run for Governor again.

But to realize his dreams, first Astorino will have to be re-elected in Westchester, and that election will be this November.  Because of the paucity of elections in this off-off-year, Astorino’s relatively high profile, and Westchester’s status as a “swing county,” this could very well be a closely watched race on the national level, as an early barometer of how the GOP might fare in 2018.

Astorino held a Town Hall on Monday night, and our friend Susan reported on the gathering.

I arrived at the 7 pm meeting at 6:45. At that time I learned that Astorino was holding his meeting in a room on the second floor that was full. He arrived with enough people to fill at least half the room. I was told by several people that there were only about 60-70 in that room. I also learned that he had reached out to his donors and supporters to attend the meeting and warned them to arrive early as crowds were expected. If he felt that way why not chose a bigger venue unless you are scared.  Anyway they had already filled an overflow room downstairs with other attendees and that group sat on chairs, stood and sat on the floor. They appeared to be at least a couple of hundred plus and the police could not let it go past fire regulations. The police were truly nice and were sorry to keep others outside.

A TV was set up for the inside overflow to watch the meeting.  That left a huge crowd (250?) including me to stand and fill up the large staircase outside the venue. It was a very passionate turn out with lots of chanting, signs and sharing of future ideas, meetings, marches, etc. and everyone stayed put through the meeting. It was a big crowd and looked like other protest filled town hall meetings on TV. The little I could hear involved questions about the lack of bidding for airport, Nazi items sold at the gun show and the gun show in general, the airport, needing more county jobs, low income housing and taxes. Truthfully we could not hear answers and few other questions due to the noise. But the crowd and noise won the evening and as people left the indoors, they clapped and thanked the outdoor crowd. They also said his answers were bullsh-t . It was the first time I stood outside on a staircase protesting but I was proud to be part of the resistance.

Susan was absolutely correct.  Newspaper reports indicated that it was indeed a very large crowd and a rowdy one at that, peppering Astorino with both questions of local concern as well as those involving Trump.  Asked about whether he believes in climate change, Astorino said he did, and sought to distance himself from Trump:  “I can only deal with my world here.”  In a similar vein he said he did not view the Westchester press as his enemy.

He was forced to defend his decision to veto a bill passed by the County Legislators that would have banned gun shows on county property (one was held earlier this year at the County Center), as well as complaints that Nazi books were sold at that gun show.

All in all, Astorino was served notice that, as in many other parts of the country, Democrats will not sit idly in the fall, and will be out in full force to unseat him, and disrupt his designs on Albany.

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