Coombe switches endorsement to Molinaro in governor’s race

Sullivan County Republican Chairman Dick Coombe swung his support on Friday to Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro in what is shaping up to be a two-man contest for the Republican nomination for governor, with Molinaro pushing ahead before he has even openly entered the race.

Coombe, a former state assemblyman, had enthusiastically endorsed Sen. John DeFrancisco less than two weeks earlier, calling him “a strong voice for upstate New York” in a campaign press release. But Molinaro, who previously had declined to run, reemerged as a potential candidate since then and won a straw poll at a partial gathering of Republican county chairmen and state committee members in Albany. By Thursday, 16 chairmen had endorsed Molinaro, giving him almost twice as many weighted votes at a future party convention as DeFrancisco had at that time, the Auburn Citizen reported on Friday.

Coombe was counted in DeFrancisco’s camp in that analysis. But he told the Times Herald-Record on Friday that he had emailed his counterpart in Dutchess earlier that day to indicate he will endorse Molinaro.

“He’s young, he charismatic, and he’s an experienced public servant,” Coombe said, noting the national attention Molinaro has earned for his efforts to help people with disabilities. He later added: “Now he’s a bright new star at a time when Cuomo’s hurting.”

DeFrancisco’s campaign previously had announced the endorsements of 17 county chairmen, plus a slew of his fellow Republican senators, including all four representing Orange, Ulster and Sullivan: John Bonacic, Bill Larkin, James Seward and George Amedore.

Still undeclared in the endorsement competition are Orange County Chairwoman Courtney Canfield Greene – who couldn’t be reached for comment on Friday – and Ulster Chairman Roger Rascoe.

Rascoe offered words of praise for Molinaro on Friday but stopped short of endorsing him over DeFrancisco. “I am excited about Marcus Molinaro, and if Senator DeFrancisco asks for a comment I would say good things about him as well,” he said. He argued Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has a dismal record and said, “I’m looking forward to seeing someone – anyone – beating Cuomo this year.”

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