- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 14, 2014

RYE BROOK, N.Y. (AP) - New York Republicans accused President Barack Obama and Gov. Andrew Cuomo of crashing their party convention on Wednesday after the two Democrats held an event on the Tappan Zee Bridge a few miles from where the GOP gathered to nominate candidates for the fall election.

Though Democrats said the timing of the presidential visit was coincidental, top Republicans said it suggests Cuomo is nervous about his match-up with Republican Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino.

“It’s almost like they sat around and said, ‘It’s time to bring some traffic problems to the New York state convention,’” said Republican attorney general candidate John Cahill, referring to last fall’s scheme by loyalists of Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to strangle traffic near the George Washington Bridge as political payback.

Astorino was scheduled to attend the bridge event, intended to highlight the need to invest in road and bridge projects around the country. Obama is scheduled to be in New York City on Thursday for the dedication of the Sept. 11 memorial museum.

Obama’s visit to the deteriorating bridge over the Hudson River attracted local and national media attention and prompted transportation officials to warn of traffic delays in the area. The convention is being held about 10 minutes away from the bridge.

Obama, during his remarks, recognized Cuomo and the local mayor but did not mention Astorino.

Cuomo spokesman Matt Wing said the governor’s office had no say on the event’s timing.

State GOP Chairman Ed Cox and others used Obama’s visit to galvanize the hundreds of party loyalists attending the two-day convention. Cox said Cuomo must be worried about Astorino’s candidacy, despite polls that give him a significant lead.

“Do you think there’s any coincidence with this administration?” Cox said of Cuomo. “He’s a control freak.”

New York Republicans, hoping to win their first statewide races since 2002, tried on Wednesday to present a united front. The party has lined up behind Astorino, and Cahill and comptroller candidate Robert Antonacci faced no opposition during Wednesday’s nominations.

Cahill is a former top aide to Republican ex-Gov. George Pataki. Antonacci is the Onondaga County comptroller.

“Today we start the fight to restore New York,” Antonacci told delegates after accepting the nomination.

Astorino and his running mate, Chemung County Sheriff Christopher Moss, are to be nominated on Thursday.

Democrats will hold their nominating convention next week in Suffolk County. Along with Cuomo, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman are seeking re-election.

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