There was no straw poll during the two hour meeting and Trump did not make any declaration concerning a possible candidacy, but recieved broad support from many of the county chairs in attendence.
If Trump were able to secure the support of 76 percent of the state Republican party convention delegates in May, he would make it much harder for a primary to be waged by Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, who has begun fundraising and has an exploratory committee in place. Trump has met with Republican leaders and has pledged to spend tens of millions of dollars on a potential campaign, but has said repeatedly that he would not run if he had to face a primary.
Astorino has all but said he's running, and made his strongest hint yet saying in a fundraising letter (below) sent to supporters on the same day as the Trump meeting. In it , Astorino said " With your help we put aside any doubt that a leader who makes tough decisions that are in the best interest of their constituents can be successful. Now let’s bring that message statewide.
Trump meanwhile continues to be less committal, while supporters work begind the scenes to develop the support that could knock Astorino out of the race. Several supporters have been organizing these meetings to convince him to run, and at each he gathers a larger roster of county chairmen ready to advance a Trumnp candidacy..
The Onondaga County Republican Party Chair told The Syracuse Post Standard that he believes the consensus in that room Wednesday would be that if Donald Trump chose to run for they would support him.
" if Donald Trump chose to run for governor, not only would it be a game-changer for the Republican Party, but he would be our nominee," Syracuse-area Republican chairman Tom Dadey, said, according to the Post Standard.
Similar comments were made earlier this week to Gannet's Albany Bureau by Bill Reilich, the Monroe County GOP Chair.
“If Donald Trump throws his hat in the ring, I would be with him,” Reilich was quoted as saying
"Reilich said he would ideally like to see Trump run for governor and Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino as his running mate. Astorino is weighing a run for governor, as is Trump. Astorino has said he wouldn’t want to be Trump’s lieutenant governor candidate," Gannett wrote.After the meeting Trump appeared at a Manhattan Republican Party fundraiser, similar to the one he spoke at in Buffalo on January 31, and striking similar themes.
During Wednesday's Manhattan event, Manhattan GOP chair Dan Issacs said he expected to refer to Gov. Cuomo as a "former governor" according to the New York Daily News.
"Especially if a certain someone sitting at Table 13 tells us a certain something" he said, before unveiling a large "Trump for Governor" poster on stage.
Trump continues to state that the only way he would run and that the GOP could defeat Governor Andrew Cuomo would be with complete unity and no party primary. State Republican Party Chairman Ed Cox was not at the meeting. Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino is also considering a run and has Cox' support.
On the financial side, Cuomo is said to have about $33 million dollars for the race, Astorino $1 million and Trump is ready to spend $50 million of his own money.
In a related note, Astorino has sent out his first fundraising solicitation.
Here's what the letter said
Thank you for your support. My reelection campaign last fall was a tremendous success. They said we’d be a four-year “accident” but instead we were reelected by a large margin because we kept our promises to the people of Westchester and told them the truth about why we needed to fix county government.
During my first term as County Executive, my administration made the tough decisions necessary to right our county’s economy. We reduced overall county spending by 5.2%, cut the bloated county workforce by 14%, and required, for the first time ever, employee contributions to healthcare. While the focus of my first term was the county’s financial wellness, we also protected the essential services offered to our residents who need our continued help. On November 5th, 2013, the voters demonstrated their support of these difficult decisions by reelecting me by a wide margin to a second term.
Now I’m being encouraged to take on a greater challenge. New York State is losing under our current governor and we must take action before it is too late. Mr. Cuomo, with his finger perpetually in the breeze, tries to be all things to all people. The plain truth is Mr. Cuomo won’t make difficult decisions. His most recent budget is built on false assumptions, borrowed money, and funds he has literally seized from the private sector – like his $1.75 billion raid on the state insurance fund. This money – premiums paid by private businesses for workers’ compensation coverage – has been taken by Mr. Cuomo to balance his budget.
As I go around the state, I am hearing the same message from people everywhere: we can’t afford to remain dead last in business climate among states and succeed. One of my first challenges as County Executive was working closely with PepsiCo to keep their headquarters in the county. Like many companies in New York State, they were ready to pack up and go. After many meetings, PepsiCo not only decided to stay, but they doubled down and are building a larger facility offering even more opportunity and employment in the county. Westchester’s unemployment rate of 5.5 % is one of the lowest in New York State. We cannot be the state that people and businesses are fleeing from and pretend that we’re building a better future for our children. Growth and progress cannot be faked.
I know the hurdles, money being a big one, but also the conventional wisdom that says YOU can’t win in this state. Well, that is exactly what they told us in Westchester and we proved them wrong, twice. With your help we put aside any doubt that a leader who makes tough decisions that are in the best interest of their constituents can be successful. Now let’s bring that message statewide.
Will you join me again in proving them wrong? I need to show that we have the backing to make this a successful and winning race. It is no secret that the governor is well funded, but I believe there is a place here for everyone and I need your support. Please consider contributing $25, $50, $100, $500, $1,000 or as generously as you can afford by clicking here.
Thank you for all of your past support. I realize I wouldn’t have this opportunity without you and I look forward to what lies ahead.
P.S. If you prefer to send a check you can do so by making it out to “Astorino for Governor” and sending it to:
Astorino for Governor
P.O. Box 14
South Salem, NY 10590