Whether he can get enough political and financial backing is big question

Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, R-Canandaigua, is exploring a run for governor — a decision he expects to make by the end of the year.

Kolb talked about what he needs to assess before he’d declare a candidacy and what he would want to bring to the state's highest executive office.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, plans to seek re-election to a third term in 2018.

Kolb was first elected to the Assembly in a special election in February 2000 and overwhelmingly re-elected ever since. In 2009, he was elected Minority Leader by his Assembly colleagues. Kolb’s district includes all of Ontario County and parts of Seneca County.

On Wednesday, after visiting Commodore in Bloomfield as a routine visit to local businesses, Kolb said he is weighing several factors.

For one, “Can you drum up adequate financial support for one incredible political campaign?” he said.

In talking to people across the state over the last month, response is “very positive,” Kolb said. Still, running for governor is expensive. Cuomo “is sitting on $26 million,” he said. “You don’t have to raise the same amount of money, just enough to be competitive,” he said.

Kolb, with experience as business consultant, entrepreneur and chief operating officer at a variety of technology-based businesses, said his first priority would be upstate’s economy.

“There are pockets of success,” he said. But he sees upstate’s high property taxes, energy costs, poverty rates and joblessness a result of too much attention to downstate. He wants to see what state government can do to “get out of way,” to reduce costs so there’s more to invest in people and jobs.

Changing the mindset of state agencies is also on Kolb’s mind. Under Cuomo, he said the agencies are seen as a revenue stream. He wants the agencies to act as advocates — ”to help, not harass, threaten with fines, foreclosure notices” and so forth, Kolb said. “They should be there to help with these sort of things.”

Re-establishing trust in state government is also on Kolb’s list. He mentioned pending corruption trials of Cuomo’s top staffers that are further eroding confidence.

He said the average person must be able to trust that their tax dollars are being wisely spent, that the administration is transparent and that there are no secrets.