John DeFrancisco

DeFrancisco versus Molinaro: Who is winning the endorsement race?

The all-important county officials are lining up behind both GOP gubernatorial candidates.

Marc Molinaro has been publicly mulling a gubernatorial bid for so long that he could challenge Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s father for the most indecisive New York politician in memory – except that it looks like he’s actually going to pull the trigger and run for higher office. After racking up endorsements from GOP leaders for weeks, the Dutchess County executive finally confirmed that he was running on Wednesday, and he will publicly launch his campaign on April 2.

It’s just as well that Molinaro isn’t officially starting the race on April 1, as observers might have good cause to believe it was an April Fool’s Day prank. Molinaro has already changed his mind once on seeking the Republican nomination. He previously declined to run for governor in January. A “Draft Molinaro” campaign, launched by former colleagues in the Assembly, gained momentum in February and culminated in a victory in a straw poll of Republican county leaders in a state committee meeting.

State Senate Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco may wish Molinaro’s upcoming campaign is just a practical joke. DeFrancisco announced that he was running for governor in January, and has insisted that he will remain in the race through the state GOP convention in May, even as his initial frontrunner status has slipped while county leaders and prominent Republicans flocked to Molinaro. DeFrancisco, an irascible veteran lawmaker known for his straight-talking manner and contentious relationship with the governor, may find a significant challenge from the 42-year-old Molinaro, who has earned support in some critical downstate counties. Joseph Holland, a former aide to Gov. George Pataki, is also running, although he does not have any endorsements from county leaders.

Although Molinaro may have the backing of more county leaders, whose votes have a high weighted percentage at the state convention, DeFrancisco still boasts the endorsements of several upstate county chairs. Here is the rundown of notable endorsements in the Republican gubernatorial primary so far:

Marc Molinaro

Republican county chairs:

Dutchess – Michael McCormack

Essex – Shaun Gillilland

Monroe – Bill Reilich

Rockland – Lawrence A. Garvey

Schoharie – Chris Tague

Chemung – Rodney Strange (Strange had previously endorsed DeFrancisco, but switched to Molinaro.)

Steuben – Joe Sempolinski

Wayne – Bob Oaks

Fulton – Susan McNeil

Ontario – Trisha Turner

Orleans – Edward Morgan

Greene – Brent Bogardus

Columbia – Greg Fingar

Saratoga – Carl Zeilman

Hamilton – Bill Murphy

Livingston – Lowell Conrad

Ulster – Roger Rascoe

Seneca – Tom Fox

Washington – Dan Boucher

Schuyler – Lester W. Cady

Yates – Sandra J. King

Allegany – Dwight "Mike" Healy

Putnam – Anthony G. Scannapieco Jr.

Sullivan – Richard Coombe

Franklin – Ray Scollin

Clinton – Clark Currier

Orange – Courtney Greene

Suffolk – John Jay LaValle

Erie – Nick Langworthy

New York – Andrea Catsimatidis

Otsego – Joe Marmorato

Chautauqua – Dave Wilfong


Public officials:

Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb (Kolb previously sought the Republican gubernatorial nomination, but dropped out of the race in January.)

Assemblyman Dean Murray (Murray launched the “Draft Molinaro” social media campaign.)

New York City Councilman Joe Borelli


John DeFrancisco

Republican county chairs:

Genesee – Richard Siebert

St. Lawrence – Tom Jenison

Onandaga – Tom Dadey

Albany – Christine Benedict

Lewis – Michael Young

Niagara – Scott Kiedrowski

Broome – Bijoy Data

Chenango – Thomas Morrone

Delaware – Maria Kelso

Jefferson – Don Coon

Madison – Todd A. Rouse

Montgomery – Rosemary Smith

Oneida – Peter Sobel

Tioga – Donald Castellucci Jr.

Cattaraugus – Robert Keis

Oswego – Fred Beardsley

Cayuga – Cherl Heary


Public officials:

State Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan