RYE BROOK Republican delegates from across New York kicked off the party's state convention Wednesday morning, where the GOP will pick its preferred candidates for attorney general and comptroller in the afternoon.
State GOP Chairman Ed Cox launched the convention at the Hilton Westchester with a 14-minute speech knocking Gov. Andrew Cuomo's accomplishments as "fraud and fiction" while touting the Republican's statewide ticket, which is headed by Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino. Several times, Cox repeated the convention's theme: "It's our time."
The state GOP will formally tap Yonkers resident John Cahill, a top aide to then-Gov. George Pataki, as its preferred attorney general candidate first, followed by Onondaga County Comptroller Robert Antonacci for state comptroller. Astorino and his running mate, Chemung County Sheriff Christopher Moss, will be tapped by delegates Thursday.
"New York is losing and losing big time," Cox said. "And so, it's time for a change. Now it's our time to govern."
New York hasn't elected a Republican to a statewide position since Pataki won his third term in 2002, and public-opinion polls show Astorino has an uphill climb against Cuomo, who is seeking a second term.
The Republicans' 2014 convention is expected to be far less dramatic than in 2010, when former Rep. Rick Lazio, Buffalo developer Carl Paladino and former Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy battled to be the party's preferred gubernatorial candidate. Lazio was ultimately selected, but was defeated by Paladino in a primary.
This year, Astorino, Cahill, Antonacci and Moss are all running unopposed among Republicans.
Cox said the lack of convention-related drama this year is "terrific."
"The drama is going to be in the general election," he said.
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama is scheduled to deliver remarks Wednesday morning on infrastructure spending in the shadow of the Tappan Zee Bridge in Tarrytown, Westchester County. Both Astorino and Cuomo are scheduled to attend.
Democrats will nominate Cuomo for re-election next week on Long Island, as well as nominate Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli for re-election.
Democrats are already coming out swinging on Astorino, releasing a one-minute ad Wednesday knocking as being "so far right. He's wrong for New York."
"Richard Nixon son-in-law, and oil and gas developer Ed Cox—has hand picked the ultra-conservative Rob Astorino to run for governor," the ad says.
"Astorino is the only county executive in the nation found by the federal government to be in violation anti-discrimination laws; $10 million in penalties for civil rights violations. Rob Astorino is against a woman's right to choose. He's against marriage equality. He's against criminal background checks to buy a gun. The right wing Republicans have done enough damage in Washington."