ALBANY Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino will seek the Republican nomination to challenge Gov. Andrew Cuomo at the ballot box this November.
Astorino, who won his second term as county executive last November, released a 6 1/2-minute video Wednesday announcing his run, which came after he spent much of the last four months touring the state courting GOP support.
In the video, Astorino says New Yorkers are "leaving the state in droves" to look for jobs in other states and "escape the crazy cost of living and killer property taxes."
"I'm Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino and I'm announcing my candidacy today for governor of New York state," Astorino says in the video. "Because I'm tired of listening to the fairy tale that everything is just great when it's just the opposite."
A Mount Pleasant resident, Astorino will face a popular Democratic incumbent in Cuomo, who has high public support in the polls and a daunting $33 million in his re-election campaign account. New York has twice as many Democrats as Republicans, a similar makeup to Westchester County.
Astorino becomes the first Republican to formally enter the race, though at least two others have flirted with a run.
Carl Paladino, the Buffalo businessman who was took on Cuomo in 2010 on the Republican line, has said he may run on a third-party ballot line if the GOP's nominee doesn't denounce the Republican legislative leaders in Albany.
Celebrity billionaire Donald Trump, the host of NBC's "The Apprentice," has also publicly weighed a run, but has said he would only enter the fold if the GOP was unanimously united behind him, which isn't likely to happen.
Astorino has struck a fiscally conservative tone as he has toured the state, but will face strong opposition from Democrats and pro-choice groups, who have clashed with the county executive on his pro-life stance on abortion and other social issues.
"Rob Astorino announced today that he wants to be the next governor of New York," said Andrea Miller, president of NARAL Pro-Choice New York. "Yet, he has shown flagrant disregard for the core values of the millions of pro-choice New Yorkers. Astorino has at every turn demonstrated a profound lack of respect for women's fundamental rights and basic health care needs."