Mark Lungariello, Rockland/Westchester Journal News
The 40th District Senate seat is expected to be hotly contested.
The New York State Democratic Senate Campaign Committee issued a scathing letter welcoming former Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino into race for the Senate’s 40th District.
Astorino, who served eight years as Westchester County executive, is expected to run against one-term incumbent Pete Harckham for a seat that represents parts of northern Westchester as well as Putnam and Dutchess counties.
The committee, in a letter addressed to Astorino, called the Mount Pleasant resident “a failed candidate” for his losses in the 2014 gubernatorial race and 2017 county executive race.
It also accused him of corruption related to a New York City case in which a witness said he helped Astorino buy a Rolex.
Jona Rechnitz, a federal witness in three New York City trials, had said he cut a check for $5,790 to cover most of the cost of a Rolex Submariner watch. Astorino said Rechnitz was lying and that he paid the full price quoted to him, producing a receipt for $1,960 for the purchase.
The watch was seized in 2016 and Astorino gave up a fight to get the watch back.
“Did the FBI ever give you back that Rolex you took as a bribe?” the letter stated. “How do you plan on telling Putnam voters about your history of corruption? Talk about an awkward first introduction.”
Astorino, through a spokesman, declined comment. He said in an October interview he was never questioned by authorities nor did he appear in front of a grand jury but was always forthcoming with the press about the watch.