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DeFrancisco shrugs off Molinaro’s endorsements in GOP nomination fight

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — State Sen. John DeFrancisco, R–DeWitt, doesn’t buy Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro’s “news-release manner of selection” for governor, he says.

Molinaro has been collecting endorsements from around the state, creating a certain impression. “If it feels like there is momentum gathering behind Marc Molinaro’s candidacy for governor, it is only because there truly is,” Staten Island Councilman Joe Borelli said in a statement endorsing Molinaro this week.

DeFrancisco sees things very differently. A candidate since he declared he was running for the Republican nomination Jan. 30, he thinks Republicans deserve a chance to hear from their would-be candidate, learn about his positions, and see him in action.


“A candidate has to make his positions known and answer questions,” he says.

“I’ve been out and about,” DeFrancisco says, mentioning events in the Hudson Valley, Orange County, the Finger Lakes and a debate in Buffalo. “Molinaro has not gone to any of these events.”

DeFrancisco recently attended the Republican dinner in Broome County and was the only candidate for governor who showed up, he says.

Joseph Holland, who chaired Gov. George Pataki’s 1994 campaign, has also said he is running, but hasn’t formally declared. Former Erie County Executive Joel Giambra has left the Republican race and said he is seeking the Reform Party nomination.

Onondaga County Republican Committee Chairman Tom Dadey has endorsed DeFranciso, and knocks the straw vote that served as the kick-off of the Molinaro campaign. A March 2 meeting of Republican officials in Saratoga included a straw vote that saw Molinaro as the top choice among candidates.

But only 18 percent of the people who were supposed to be there were there, Dadey says. And even though Dadey had formal permission to cast votes on behalf of other Onondaga County Republicans, he wasn’t allowed to do so.

“More than 20 counties were not even there,” Dadey notes. “There was not even a quorum.”

Despite that, Molinaro’s straw vote victory seemed to trigger a series of endorsements from elected and party officials around the state.

In recent days, Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, R–Canandaigua, endorsed Molinaro as did Assemblyman Will Barclay, R–Pulaski. Both represent Assembly districts that share towns with DeFrancisco’s Senate district.

DeFrancico says he’s not moved by the press releases announcing endorsements for Molinaro. He says there are more than two months before New York Republicans hold their convention. “Two and half months is a long time,” he says.

While Molinaro may be landing endorsements, DeFrancisco points out his war chest is bigger than Molinaro’s. DeFrancisco says he has $1.5 million and Molinaro, maybe $35,000.

It’s going to take millions of dollars to run a credible campaign against incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo, says Dadey. He estimates it will take $6 million or $7 million just to run against Cuomo, who has a campaign war chest of $35 million.

Leaving aside money, DeFrancisco says Molinaro hasn’t even declared he’s running yet or gone to events. “You’ve got to vet a candidate to learn the fact that he can handle the heat as it’s turned up in the kitchen.”

DeFrancisco says he ready to campaign up to the convention and, if he lands the party’s endorsement, “I’ll fight like heck.”

Finally, DeFrancisco’s campaign had its own key endorsement to announce in a news release late Tuesday afternoon. The campaign said Cayuga County Chairwoman Cherl Heary has endorsed DeFrancisco.

“I’m proud to endorse John DeFrancisco for Governor. He is the only candidate capable of defeating Andrew Cuomo in November,” she said in a statement. “We need a strong leader — someone who will fight for the people of upstate New York. John DeFrancisco is that leader.”

Contact McChesney at

Photo credit: Charles McChesney/BJNN


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