By Scott Leffler
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal —
Will he or won't he?
Of the 700 people having dinner Friday night with Donald Trump at Salvatore's Italian Gardens in Depew, none knew for sure whether their guest of honor intends to run for governor of New York. Maybe even Trump himself doesn't know.
The business mogul-turned-TV star spoke to a sold-out crowd, the largest that the Erie County Republican annual Lincoln Leadership Reception has ever seen, according to none other than Trump himself.
The $100-a-plate fundraiser dinner was a veritable who's who of Erie County Republicans with a healthy smattering of Niagara County GOP members added in, including Lockport City GOP Committee Chairman Pete Robinson.
“To be honest with you, I’m really excited to see that he’s taken an interest in this part of New York State," Robinson said before Trump's speech.
The city chairman said he feels that many politicians of both stripes ignore Western New York, a fact that confounds him since Western New Yorkers can offer so much to political candidates who show them love.
“These people are faithful," Robinson said. "They’re loyal."
That could be advantageus to Trump, who told an anecdote about camping as a boy in upstate New York and praised the Buffalo area throughout his speech.
“Maybe this is my good luck place — Buffalo,” Trump said to a roar of approval from the crowd.
Trump suggested once again that he's interested in running for governor against Andrew Cuomo. He also said he could win, provided the stars align correctly.
“You have to have people that know how to win," Trump said. "And I know how to win.”
He reiterated that he has no interest in a Republican primary and suggested that he'll only run if he doesn't have to go through that primary process.
"You can't have people going in, knocking the hell out of each other in a primary, spending millions of dollars and then someone comes out wounded and limping," Trump said.
Another potential GOP candidate has been heralded by many of the top Republican brass. Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino has not announced his candidacy, but reportedly said he is "leaning towards it." He has been traveling the state to meet with potential supporters.
So what would a Governor Donald Trump do? In his speech, he said he'd repeal gun laws, approve hydrofracking for natural gas and amend several business tax policies promoted by his would-be opponent Cuomo.
Those issues played well to the crowd and to many outside, as well. About a dozen SAFE Act protesters walked outside the restaurant, in the parking lot, with signs calling for the gun law's repeal.
So will Trump run?
“I think that’s up to Mr. Trump to decide," Robinson said. “If we give him a positive outlook, this is something he might go forward with.”
“I’m very excited to have him here," U.S. Rep. Chris Collins, R-Clarence, said. "He would make a great governor and we’ll have to see later if he announces.”
Also at the event Friday were former Niagara County Republican chairmen Henry Wojtaszek and Mike Norris and current chairman Scott Kiedrowski.