by Michael Gormley
May 19, 2014
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is using his first major television ads of this gubernatorial campaign to try to brand his Republican opponent, Rob Astorino, as an extreme conservative.
Political observers say Cuomo's campaign is attempting to define Astorino, the Westchester County executive, to voters in a flash of visceral images and red-hot rhetoric before he can define himself.
A review of Astorino's public positions shows that while his anti-abortion stance, and his opposition to Cuomo's gun control law and to gay marriage aren't in step with most of the blue state, his views are shared by what a pollster calls sizable minorities of New Yorkers.
Astorino, four years after Cuomo soundly beat the more unabashedly conservative Carl Paladino, has taken a more pragmatic approach to the hot-button issues than Paladino, trying to stake out nuances in his positions that could snare larger segments of voters.
How well Cuomo can define Astorino and how well Astorino can persuade voters to accept his portrayal of himself is one of the first hurdles early in the campaign.
"I knew this was going to be hardball," said professor Doug Muzzio of Baruch College's School of Public Affairs. "Andrew Cuomo pitches at your head."
But Muzzio said Astorino can't objectively be seen as ultraconservative or an extremist. "If you talking about south of the Mason-Dixon Line, Astorino is a flaming liberal," Muzzio said. "Is he an extremist? I would say certainly not in temperament, but I don't think in policy, either."
But Muzzio said the point is that polarization makes good campaign fodder. "Do you want bland? No. We want good vs. evil," he said. "We need a story."Full story at the link.