New Yorkers, there is now officially a Republican challenger to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
State Assembly Minority Leader since 2009, Brian Kolb (R-Canandaigua) announced last Tuesday he will be taking on the current two-term Democratic leadership.
Kolb told the Daily News:
“I’ve been traveling all over the state, talking to elected officials, party people, everyday folks. I think the time is right to go forth and present a case.”
Gov. Cuomo is expected to seek a third term, and has even been rumored to be eyeing a run for the White House in 2020.
About his chances, Kolb said:
“Is it going to be an uphill climb? Of course it is. I’m not being foolish about this. Can I be competitive, yes. But I wouldn’t do this if I didn’t think I had a chance to win.”
But Kolb is not the Republican favorite.
That would be Harry Wilson.
Other possible contenders are Senate Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco (Syracuse), Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro, and former Erie County Executive Joel Giambra.
At a time when lawmakers’ resignations over sexual misconduct dominate headlines, Kolb may have his own similar issue to confront regarding a rumor he sexually harassed an intern.
About it, he commented:
“There’s been rumors out there for years. I get that. I feel very comfortable with my record — the fact I’ve got women in top positions in my administration. I’ve been a strong and ethical leader. In this world we live in, Lord only knows what someone might say or not say in the rumor mill. I just believe in myself.”
A former Assembly staffer who accused then-Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s chief counsel of raping her included Kolb’s name in 2004 legal documents.
The woman reported to the media at the time that Kolb, Silver, and then-Assemblyman Joel Miller (R-Poughkeepsie) engaged in improper or illegal sexual misconduct, and sought information on those who lodged prior sexual harassment complaints against them.
Kolb denies this, stating the woman and her lawyers “were throwing spaghetti at the wall.”
“I have no idea why my name was mentioned. I was not presented any copies of anything as a result of that trial. I wasn’t deposed. I wasn’t called in for any questioning. There were no lawsuits against me. There were no settlements, no referrals to the ethics committee. Since 2004, not one action has been filed against me in any shape or form.”
Kolb refuses to resign his Legislature leadership position unless he gets the GOP nomination.
Still, he is not ruling out challenging a fellow Republican in a primary.
“If the [GOP] convention is on the up and up and there’s no rigged process, and it’s a legitimate vote, I will support the nominee of the state party. If there’s interference from the chair of the party or some sort of games being played behind the scenes, then we’ll have to take another look at that.”
Kolb must stave off imminent attacks that his platform is an extension of another New Yorker’s–President Donald Trump.
About it, he said:
“Trump is not a factor. My name is not Brian Trump; it’s Brian Kolb. If Donald Trump does good things for New York, I will support it. If he does bad things for New York, I will not support it. My priority is New York State.”
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