Rob Astorino and Andrew Cuomo shook hands this morning. It was a different outcome than Zephyr Teachout’s infamous attempt to shake hands with the governor, involving an actual handshake, albeit quick with a very brief back and forth.
Astorino spoke to the New York State Business Council Thursday night, giving some pointed critiques of the business community’s support of Governor Cuomo. His remarks are a sign of the challenges Astorino faces, as traditional supporters of Republican candidates embrace his Democratic opponent. Astorino has struggled for attention as well as support, with a modest amount of money and many potential supporters convinced from the start that he will lose. Cuomo has mostly publicly ignored Astorino, further limiting his exposure.
Astorino stayed overnight at the conference, held at the Sagamore Hotel on Lake George, and came to the morning conference session just before Governor Cuomo’s scheduled speech. He worked the room, greeting all present and talking with reporters before moving toward the stage entrance. Here’s what happened as Cuomo entered the conference room:
Update – Gaggles:
Astorino and Cuomo separately spoke with the press this morning, Astorino before Cuomo’s speech and Cuomo afterwards.
Astorino was asked why he was present, (it’s a good place to be), kiddingly responding “he’s coming here this morning?” when asked if he intended to say hello to the governor. Other question topics included reports that the governor’s staff tried to have him bumped from the conference schedule, whether he expected or sought an endorsement from the Council and the federal indictment of Sam Zherka, who is a plaintiff suing Astorino.
A frequently bemused, even goofy, Cuomo covered a wider range of topics, although he was asked about his handshake with Astorino and his thoughts on Astorino appearing this morning (“I hope he enjoyed it.”) He was extensively asked about the state senate, including business community concerns about how a Democratic senate could affect state policies and whether he plans to assist Republican Senator Mark Grisanti. Other topics included plans for spending the billions of dollars recently received by the state from penalties and settlements with large financial institutions, debating Astorino (“we will have, uh … we will debate), local government consolidations whether he will commit to serving a full four year term if re-elected (“what if I die?”) and the recent court decision removing the word “independent” from the ballot issue description of a proposed constitutional amendment changing the redistricting process.