BY DYLAN SKRILOFF
Ed Day’s high approval ratings (according to internal polls), Rockland County’s improved fiscal status and Day’s success transforming the political landscape of the formerly Dem-dominated County of Rockland have not gone unnoticed amongst Republican leaders in Albany. In fact, sources close to the state GOP leadership have told the Rockland County Times that Day is being discussed as a possible contender in the 2018 gubernatorial election.
In 2014, Rob Astorino, county executive of neighboring Westchester County, held the mantle for the GOP in the governor contest and pulled 41 percent of the vote. Democratic incumbent Andrew Cuomo may be a vulnerable target in 2018 due to his extended shelf life and exposure to many corruption scandals.
Day impressed political insiders when he parlayed discontent with the status quo and resistance to the dominance of the Ramapo “bloc vote” into a convincing win vs. Democrat David Fried for county executive in 2013. Day’s political ascent continued then with a consolidation of power within the Rockland County GOP, sweeping away the resistance of party rivals such as Chairman Vincent Reda and former Legislator Frank Sparaco, who had been butting heads with him. He helped to organize new Republican leadership under Chairman Lawrence Garvey and introduced many new party committee members.
Day then used this momentum to spearhead a campaign to unseat the longtime Democratic and Conservative Party power structure within the Town of Clarkstown, earning a resounding victory with the election of three Republicans, Supervisor-elect George Hoehmann, incumbent Councilman Frank Borelli and Councilman-elect John Noto, Jr. Clarkstown is an influential town within New York State politics and the stunning victory sent out shock waves into the political atmosphere.
Key to the Day movement’s political success has been the use of new “reform” or “preserve”-minded party lines, “Preserve Rockland” in 2013 and “Reform Party” in 2015. These party lines attracted conservatives, Democrats and independents at a higher rate than the old lines of influence: Working Families, Conservative and Independence.
Day had been unliked amongst some of the leaders of these old party lines and the leaders of the old party system that he has now trounced. Ironically, if Day had been given endorsements and back slaps on any of those lines in 2013 he may have not been forced to create the independent movement that has led him to become a transformative figure in local politics.
Rockland GOP Chairman Lawrence Garvey wasn’t surprised about the Albany chatter. He said, “Yes I’ve heard the same thing. And why not? He’s doing a phenomenal job as county executive, he’s enormously popular, and he is literally in the process of turning the county around. So I’m not surprised that other people in the state are taking notice. I’m sure he wants to finish what he started, maybe run for reelection, but statewide office is certainly something he should seriously consider.”
Day confirmed he’s heard his name mentioned in the gubernatorial chatter but offered the obligatory no comment in response. On the homefront, his proposed budget looks likely to be installed without revision at Thursday’s meeting of the County Legislature.