Republican gubernatorial candidate Marc Molinaro came to New York City’s City Hall Monday, joined by running mate Julie Killian and Council Member Joe Borelli for a press conference focused on opposing Governor Andrew Cuomo’s effort at eliminating the tip credit. (The tip credit allows paying tipped service workers, such as waiters/waitresses and bartenders, less than minimum wage due to their receiving significant tip income. Eliminating it would raise wages but, in the view of many in the hospitality industry, lead to many establishments eliminating tipping completely and consequently reducing tipped workers income.) Other topics included Molinaro’s ability to reach City voters, whether he has a preference in the Democratic gubernatorial primary and his reaction to the Trump/Putin Helsinki press conference.
Molinaro’s Dutchess County bona fides are solid, but he’s still not well known in New York City. Elected to the Village of Tivoli Board of Trustees at age 18 and then serving 12 years as mayor, Molinaro also represented Dutchess County in the New York State Assembly and is currently the Dutchess County Executive. Any prospect of victory requires performing well in vote-laden New York City and its suburbs. I asked Molinaro how, with his experience in a fairly small rural county, he’ll convince those City voters that he will be able to run a dramatically larger government. “It’s not the size of your county that counts, it’s your ability to lead it” he responded, saying that his self-described ability to hire good people is key and that he understands “major issues facing ordinary New Yorkers.” As to what issues he sees as key for New York City, and whether that differs from the rest of the state, he referenced a “high cost of living, lack of accessible housing and a failing transit system” as shared concerns of both City and non-City New Yorkers, but didn’t offer any insight into whether he sees significant differences in their concerns. He pivoted to a critique of Governor Cuomo, saying that New Yorkers in both the City and upstate seek a “government they can trust, and a governor who will listen to them, bring them together and solve the problems that face them.”
Many Republicans reacted positively when Cynthia Nixon announced that she would run in the Democratic primary against Andrew Cuomo. Molinaro laughed loudly when I asked if he prefers either Cuomo or Nixon in the Democratic primary, saying amid his laughter “[n]o, I leave to voters the right to choose their candidates.”
Molinaro had little to say when I asked for reaction to the Trump/Putin Helsinki press conference, which had occurred 2-3 hours earlier. He offered only that “I haven’t [seen the press conference or news reports], but Russia is no friend of the United States.”