He says he will skip the primary if not nominated — as long as the convention is fair
Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb said Monday he will not pursue a primary race in his bid for the Republican nomination to run for governor, if the party convention in May is “fair and square.”
Speaking on the radio with Susan Arbetter, host of the Capitol Pressroom, the Canandaigua Republican said if state committeemen and women conduct a fair convention, he would support whoever emerges as the Republican nominee.
“I think it's better that we come out of the convention unified,” Kolb said, noting the party needs to focus efforts on defeating Gov. Andrew Cuomo, assuming he is the Democratic nominee.
Cuomo has indicated he will seek a third four-year term in 2018.
Kolb is the first Republican to officially announce his campaign, kicking it off Dec. 12 with the launch of a new website (kolbfornewyork.com).
Other potential Republican candidates who have been mentioned include state Sen. John DeFrancisco of Syracuse, deputy majority leader; Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro; and Harry Wilson, a Westchester County businessman who founded MAEVA Group, a corporate restructuring firm.
Arbetter asked Kolb if he had secured support from any Republican Leaders.
He said some state committee members and county chairs have said they would love to support his candidacy, but that no one is really going to commit until they know who the actual candidates are.
Kolb and Arbetter also discussed strengthening state rules regarding sexual harassment; and the challenges of an upstate candidate being elected, something that has not happened in almost 100 years, as well as the challenges of an upstate Republican running against a downstate Democrat.
Kolb acknowledged money is an issue in the campaign in which Cuomo already has a war chest of $26 million, but said ultimately it comes down to whether people think there are enough reasons to fire the governor and hire someone else.
He said he wants people to support him for who he is, his track record and type of approach, saying he is trying to make every New Yorker — regardless of party affiliation — know he is there to serve them.
Kolb said his style of governing would be entirely different than Cuomo's; that he would be very transparent, accessible to the media, and would travel all over the state — not just major media markets — to reach out to everybody.
As for strengthening rules governing sexual harassment in state government, Kolb said every agency and branch of the government would need to be involved to develop a comprehensive policy that applies uniformly to everyone. He said there needs to be trust, confidence and transparency in the process with everybody following the same rules.
Arbetter said one thing people are giving Cuomo a lot of credit for is aggressively fighting the federal tax overhaul that would reduce the state and local tax deduction and hurt many New Yorkers.
Kolb said he too will be outspoken against anything done in Washington that negatively impacts New Yorkers, but would not have approached it in the same way.
“The difference is I would have spent my time in Washington, knocking on the doors of the White House and both houses of Congress instead of spending my time out in Hollywood padding my campaign account, or hold press conferences back in New York, rallying against what's happening in Washington.”
In closing, Arbetter asked Kolb about his campaign to cut state taxes and how it would be possible when the state is facing a projected $4.4 billion deficit, possible huge cuts to Medicaid, paying for child health insurance and huge expenses related to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
“I think you have to look at everywhere we're spending money,” he said. “That's what government doesn't do, is say is every dollar being spent wisely? Do we really need to be providing $420 million to Hollywood for tax credits so our governor can go raise money? There's numerous other areas we have to look at to make sure every dollar is spent practically and pragmatically.”
The governor's office did not respond Monday to a request for comment.