The following is an expanded version of the second item from my “Albany Insider” column in Monday’s print editions:
As they draw closer to deciding whether to run for governor in 2018, two of four potential GOP candidates traveled last week to Texas for a meeting of the Republican Governors Association.
Wealthy businessman Harry Wilson and Assembly Republican Minority Leader Brian Kolb met individually with a number of Republican governors, RGA staff, and potential donors.
Wilson’s visit is seen by a number of Republicans as him doing his due diligence as he continues to consider the impact a potential run will have on his family. Wilson is expected to make a final decision within weeks.
One source downplayed Wilson’s appearance at the RGA quartly meeting in Austin. The source said Wilson attended as an executive roundtable member, which are donors. The source said Wilson has been to a number of RGA meetings–“and thus (his trip is) not a sign, one way or another” about whether he will run.
Wilson in an email to the Daily News said the RGA sessions “show the hugely positive impact Republican governors are having across the country.”
“It’s no coincidence that virtually all of the fastest-growing states are led by Republican governors,” he said. “On top of that, virtually all Republican blue state governors were outsider business leaders before getting elected; that’s part of the reason so many donors and activists have been encouraging me to run.”
The married father of four school-age children, Wilson recently told the News that he continues to wrestle with the idea of being away from his family during the campaign and his first year in office if he wins. But even while he struggles with the decision, he has met with Republicans across the state and the Republican Governors Association, presumably so he can hit the ground running should he get into the race, some say.
Wilson, who has told people he is willing to put in $ 10 million of his own money if he runs, is the preferred candidate of a number of Republican county leaders.
Assembly minority leader Brian Kolb (R-Geneva)
Meanwhile, Kolb, an upstate GOPer, said he went to the RGA meeting to see what Republican governors across the country are doing and what the organization looks for when deciding whether to participate in specific campaigns.
He said it’s too soon for the organization to make a commitment to be active in the New York race. “They’re assessing all the gubernatorial races (across the country),” Kolb said. “But it was just another good opportunity to interact with people involved in gubernatorial campaigns or potential gubernatorial campaigns.”
While saying he hasn’t made a final decision whether to enter the race, Kolb acknowledged that “it wouldn’t make sense for me to go all the way down there and not seriously be leaning toward running.”
He said during his two days in Texas, he attended several panels that contained different governors on topics such as interacting with hte media, dealing with the opioid crisis, and immigration.
“It’s not just interacting with potential donors,” Kolb said. “It was an informational two days.”
An RGA spokesman did not return a call for comment.
State Senate Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco and Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro are also considering gubernatorial runs.