Cortney O'Brien

I have one question for New York Governor Cuomo: Is that really the best you’ve got?

In an attempt to define his gubernatorial opponent before voters have the chance to get to know him, Cuomo has invoked a popular liberal tactic to paint conservative Rob Astorino as racist:

“Rob Astorino: so far right he’s wrong for New York,” a narrator intones, over a background of ominous music.

The ads capitalize on a dispute that Astorino, the Westchester County Executive, is having with the federal government over a plan to build fair housing in the county. The lawsuit requires the county to analyze its zoning laws to find potentially discriminatory practices, and build affordable housing units in some of the county’s predominately white towns. But Astorino contends the county zoning is not discriminatory, and has so far refused to authorize the housing projects. As a result HUD is withholding over $5 million dollars in funds. Democrats have seized on the issue.

The ads say, in part, accuse Astorino of “civil rights violations,” and say he’s been “threatened by the Department of Justice with contempt,” for his refusal to stop “discrimination.”

Here’s the misleading 30-second ad in its entirety:

In addition to this ominous sounding video, Reverend Al Sharpton has threatened to protest at the Republican’s campaign events.

I’m sure Astorino’s shaking.

Actually, the conservative Westchester County Executive is fighting back, producing a video of his own in which he directly calls out Cuomo’s racist assumptions:

“In two unforgivable new television commercials now airing in the New York City media market, Mr. Cuomo effectively calls me and the hundreds of thousands of Westchester and Long Island families, racists […] How dare you throw out the race card. Have you no shame?”

Astorino doesn't need a blown up budget for ads with fancy images or narration to make his point. He just looks voters straight in the eye:

“You can’t hide behind surrogates.”

Astorino also defended his zoning laws as nondiscriminatory and wondered why Cuomo waited until now, when the conservative was challenging him for governor, to say anything about the issue. Also in the video, Astorino points out he was endorsed by prominent black ministers for reelection last year, as well as leaders of the NAACP.

Astorino ends the video by taking a cue from Texas Governor Rick Perry and challenging Cuomo to a debate. Cuomo has answered him with the same cowardly response – crickets.

Despite Astorino’s passion and boldness, there’s no escaping the fact that he is grossly outmatched by Cuomo’s campaign finances. Larry Levy, with the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University, defined the race as such:

“Astorino is fighting like David with rocks against Goliath with spears and chariots,” Levy said.

Well, the good news is, we all know who won that fight.


Cortney O'Brien

Cortney O'Brien is Townhall's Associate Web Editor. Follow her on Twitter @obrienc2.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography