ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- In a stunning development in the New York state gubernatorial race, Republican Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano has rejected his party's own nominee to back Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo for reelection.
As CBS 2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported Wednesday, Mangano is the top dog Republican in New York State's wealthiest county, but decided to cross party lines to back Cuomo over Republican Rob Astorino.
In a new television campaign ad that debuted Tuesday, Mangano praises Cuomo for his shoulder to shoulder work in helping Long Island recover from Superstorm Sandy and then declares, "I'm a Republican and I'm voting for Gov. Cuomo."
The endorsement is seen as a blow to Astorino's campaign, although he is quoted in Newsday as saying he "doesn't care about endorsements," WCBS 880's Mike Xirinachs reported. The endorsement was also a big boost for Cuomo, but the big question was whether Mangano's defection will influence voters.
Republican Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano Backs Cuomo For Governor
Dave Giller of Dix Hills said Mangano's endorsement of Cuomo "might" influence how he votes. But Eileen Dudek of New Hyde Park said it would not.
"I am a Republican and I will vote for Astorino," Dudek said.
John Canetti of Manhasset said he was bothered by Mangano's endorsement "because I'm not for Governor Cuomo."
When Kramer asked to interview the county executive about his decision, his media representative said he was unavailable for the day. But Kramer got Mangano to comment anyway.
"Sometimes you need to put people before politics, as it should be, and it would be disingenuous for me to really ignore the great support that (Cuomo) has provided for the people of Nassau County," Mangano said.
When Kramer asked Mangano whether he thought Astorino was the "lesser candidate," Mangano replied, "No, not at all."
New York State Republicans have pointed out that of the 14 Republican county executives, there are just two defectors. Those defectors are Mangano and Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney, whose county includes Syracuse.
Another key Republican, Smithtown Supervisor Patrick Vecchio, also endorsed Cuomo this week.
State Republican Party Chairman Edward Cox said Mangano just might fear retribution from Cuomo.
"Andrew is known to be very tough on people who don't go along with him," Cox said.
Mangano's endorsement came as Astorino, who now serves as Westchester County executive, has been campaigning on Long Island in search of suburban votes. Astorino was dismissive of Mangano's choice.
"If the county executive of Nassau wants to put his arm around a governor who is under federal investigation for corruption, who broke his pledge to raise taxes, and is causing property taxes to go up, that's his choice," Astorino said.
Astorino, the target of a multi-million dollar negative ad blitz, has also come out with a commercial of his own showing his children laughing at Cuomo's ads and calling them "ridiculous."
But as Kramer reported, the Cuomo strategy seems to be working. A new poll has him ahead by 20 points.
The Quinnipiac University survey released Wednesday gives the Democratic incumbent 51 percent of the vote, with the Westchester County Executive getting 31 percent and Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins picking up 9 percent.
In particular in the poll, Cuomo leads Astorino by 32 points among female voters. Men favor Cuomo too, but by a five point margin.
Cuomo and his running mate, former Buffalo congresswoman Kathy Hochul, have made female voters a priority this year. They created a new "Women's Equality Party'' and touted efforts to protect abortion rights, help domestic violence victims and address pay inequities.
"New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo got a head start on the Quinnipiac University poll with his weekend campaign bus ride touting women's issues. A monster lead among women voters powers him past Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino," said Maurice Carroll, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. "It ain't over 'til it's over, but more than two-thirds of voters say their minds are made up."
The telephone survey of 1,153 likely voters was conducted last Wednesday through Monday. Its margin of error is 2.9 percent.
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