ALBANY — Days after the Republican-controlled House voted to repeal and replace Obamacare, a former staffer to Gov. Cuomo announced he is putting law school on hold to try to “repeal and replace” a freshman upstate congressman who voted for the bill.
Gareth Rhodes, a one-time deputy press secretary and advance man for Cuomo, said Monday he is entering a race that is still 18 months away.
“I can’t sit on the sidelines when my community is under attack,” Rhodes tweeted Monday after announcing his run in Politico.
“It’s time to repeal & replace John Faso.”
In a phone interview with the Daily News, he tried to tie Faso to President Trump. “He’s voted with (President) Trump from the first vote he took,” he said. “The health care vote was the final straw.”
Faso, in an interview with Spectrum News, noted he just took office five months ago and said he will “turn to politics when the time comes.”
National Republican Campaign Committee spokesman Chris Martin hammered Rhodes’ ties to Cuomo.
“With several aides to Gov. Cuomo currently under federal indictment for corruption charges, voters aren’t interested in bringing that brand of dirty politics to the 19th district,” Martin said.
Neither Rhodes nor Cuomo himself have been accused of any wrongdoing.
Rhodes, 28, is a Kingston, N.Y., native who quit the Cuomo administration in 2015 to attend Harvard Law School.
He told The News that the governor, who has been fighting with Faso over health care issues, is not behind his run, though he admitted he gave the administration a heads up a few weeks ago that he was considering a run and another to say he’s decided to enter the race.
“This was my idea,” Rhodes said. “When I saw the (health care) vote on Thursday, I said it was the last straw.”
Faso’s Hudson Valley seat is considered one of the major New York targets for national Democrats in 2018.
Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, a Democrat from a neighboring district, was scheduled to attend a town hall meeting on the health care bill Monday night in Faso’s district.
Faso was not expected to be in attendance. During his Spectrum News interview he dismissed Maloney’s appearance as a “political stunt.”
Faso’s sprawling Republican-leaning district covers all or parts of 11 counties. Rhodes, who knocked Faso for not holding town halls, said he’s prepared to put 100,000 miles on his car as he campaigns.
He said he welcomes a Democratic primary and vows to support whichever candidate emerges with the nomination.
The same day Rhodes said he would run, a coalition of progressive groups calling itself Save My Care released ads attacking House Republicans — including ones targeting Faso, Lee Zeldin of Long Island and Elise Stefanik, of upstate Willsboro — who voted for the bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.
Martin defended Faso, saying that he “kept his promise to get government out of the way and provided consumers the freedom to choose the health care plan that best fits their needs.”