The Assembly minority leader from Canandaigua says he has nothing to hide
Coming off a weekend of answering questions about his reason for withdrawing from the governor’s race, Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb said Monday he is running for reelection to the Assembly. The Republican from Canandaigua also addressed rumors about his reasons for dropping out of the race for governor.
In a surprise announcement Friday, Kolb stated he was withdrawing because he wasn’t willing to sacrifice the time with his family. Despite campaigning for the Republican nomination, Kolb on Monday said he had continued to put his job as assemblyman and minority leader first.
“Something had to give — and it wasn’t going to be my family,” he said.
Kolb blasted rumors that popped up after Friday’s announcement suggesting his reason for withdrawing was tied to a civil court case 14 years ago. Kolb was said to be mentioned in legal papers in 2004 as lawyers sought any complaints filed against lawmakers involving a sexual harassment lawsuit. The suit brought by a former Assembly staffer charged that a former chief counsel to then-Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver raped her.
Kolb, who was questioned about the case after announcing his campaign in December, reiterated Monday he doesn’t know why he was mentioned in that case and he has nothing to hide.
“I have never had any settlement or ethics complaints against me,” Kolb said. He attributed a resurfacing of the matter after his dropping from the governor’s race to the assumption: “There must be something on Kolb,” he said.
“Most people in politics don’t really tell the truth,” he added. “I am one of the few people who say what they mean and mean what they say. That is hard for people to accept because most politicians are ambitious to a fault in pursuit of getting themselves elected to office.”
On Dec. 12, Kolb announced his run for governor, becoming the first out of box to formally seek the Republican nomination challenging Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo. He secured more endorsements among GOP leaders than his rivals, Syracuse-area Sen. John DeFrancisco and former Erie County Executive Joel Giambra. Endorsements included chairs of nine Republican county committees across the Finger Lakes region and GOP committees of Seneca, Yates and Ontario counties.
Trisha Turner, chair of the Ontario County Republican Committee, called Kolb’s drop from the gubernatorial race “a great loss.”
“Authentic leadership from the top is desperately needed to bring common sense back to Albany,” Turner said in an email. “However, I am confident that he will continue to advocate for our region and state as the Leader of the Republican Assembly Conference and representative of the 131st District. He continues to have my support and the support of the county committee.
"We will have the opportunity to hear from the remaining gubernatorial candidates at our regional meeting. I have made no decision who I will personally endorse at this time, but looking forward to learn more about the candidates and what they bring to the table,” added Turner, who is Finger Lakes regional vice chair of the New York State Republican Party. “It is critical to work collaboratively across the regions to form a slate of statewide candidates that will best represent our party."
Kolb was first elected to the Legislature in 2000 and has been minority leader since 2009. He denied having received any political pressure from fellow GOP candidates to withdraw from seeking the Republican nomination in the attempt to unseat Cuomo. “There was not outside pressure, no nefarious reason,” Kolb said.
“I know it was abrupt to the rest of the world,” Kolb added about his Friday announcement. Before beginning his campaign he knew he was going to be busy, he said. But “the personal sacrifice of time, it had been building,” he said. “I have to do what is best, nothing else.”
The state GOP will hold its convention this spring to select a candidate. Other possible Republican contenders include John Cahill, former commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation, who served as chief of state for former Gov. George Pataki; and former state Senator Joe Holland of Rockland County.