Cuomo’s sex harass, nursing home scandals give Rob Astorino hope for new gov bid

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Former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino is preparing to make another Republican run for governor next year amid multiple scandals consuming three-term Democratic incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

A source close to Astorino said he’s telling donors he’ll run and is willing to duke it out with other Republicans for the GOP nomination.

Cuomo defeated Astorino with 54 percent of the vote to 41 percent to secure a second term in 2014, with then-Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins garnering 5 percent.

Astorino, 53, served two terms as Westchester executive but was toppled by Democrat George Latimer when he sought a third term in 2017.

He also was defeated last year when he challenged first-term Democratic state Sen. Peter Harckham for the 40th District seat covering the lower Hudson Valley.

Astorino confirmed Wednesday he’s been talking to donors about making a run.

He said some of the issues he raised — such as Cuomo blowing millions of dollars on subsidies for upstate economic development programs — have come home to roost.

Astorino also said Cuomo and the Democrats — who control all levers of state government — can no longer tie Republican candidates to former President Donald Trump. They have to run on their records.

“This is about fixing the state. Democratic Party rule has been a disaster,” he said.

Astorino also said the 2022 gubernatorial race — whether or not Cuomo runs — would be a higher national priority for the GOP, making it easier to raise funds.

Cuomo’s enormous fundraising machine put Republicans — as well as insurgents in Democratic primaries — at a severe disadvantage in prior races.

As with other Republican gubernatorial wannabes, Astorino’s interest shows that he believes Cuomo has been badly weakened by the growing nursing home and sexual harassment scandals.

Cuomo had indicated he would seek a fourth term before accusations of misconduct mounted. Cuomo’s dad, former three-term Gov. Mario Cuomo, lost to Republican George Pataki when he sought a fourth term.

The governor on Tuesday dodged a question about running for a fourth term.

“Today is not a day for politics. I’m focused on my job,” Cuomo said on a conference call with reporters.

He said the public should wait for the results of state Attorney General Letitia James’ independent probe of sexual harassment accusations leveled at him by former staffers before making a judgment. James just named a former top federal prosecutor and experienced employment discrimination lawyer to lead the probe.

“You don’t know any facts, you know allegations,” Cuomo said. “Let’s operate on facts. We have an investigation, qualified investigators.”

Other Republicans who are exploring a run for governor include Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, who lost to Cuomo in 2018; Long Island Rep. Lee Zeldin and upstate Rep. Tom Reed, and Lewis County Sheriff Michael Carpinelli.

Upstate Rep. Elise Stefanik also has been mentioned as a potential candidate.

Cuomo is facing mounting calls from his own party to resign, with more than two dozen Democratic legislators urging him to step down — including Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and the longest-serving member of the Legislature, Assemblyman Richard Gottfried — as well as most Republicans. Cuomo has said he won’t resign.

Aside from the sexual harassment claims made against him by six women, Cuomo faces a federal probe and calls to resign after being accused of deliberately low-balling the number of nursing home residents killed by the coronavirus. His office has denied wrongdoing.

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