ALBANY — Marc Molinaro has heard the theory of a “blue wave” of voters propelling Democratic candidates this year — and he isn’t flinching.

The GOP nominee for governor of New York said he is well aware that he trails in the polls with little more than seven weeks before the November general election. But he says he is convinced he will overtake Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Molinaro, in an interview with CNHI, said he senses a growing number of New Yorkers have grown frustrated with corruption at the Albany statehouse along with the state’s high taxes and the outward migration of residents to other states perceived as greener pastures.

He contended his style of governing would be a good fit for Albany, comparing himself to Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, one of several moderate Republicans who have enjoyed electoral success in Democrat-dominated states.

Asked to describe his approach to governance, Molinaro, the Dutchess County executive and former state Assembly member, said: “It is collaborative, consensus-oriented and inclusive of differing opinions.”

For New York Republicans, winning statewide elections is almost always an uphill climb. No GOP candidate has won state office since three-term Gov. George Pataki earned his final term in 2002.

Pataki took a path to the governor’s mansion similar to the one Molinaro is eying, having served in local government before becoming a state legislator. In 1994, with Cuomo’s father, Mario Cuomo, seeking a fourth term, Pataki, rated by political prognosticators as the underdog, scored an upset victory.

It was upstate voters who delivered that election to Pataki, with some 70 percent of them going to the polls that year.

On Thursday, Cuomo scored an easy Democratic primary knockout of Cynthia Nixon, an actress and a self-described Democratic socialist. But Molinaro’s supporters argue the incumbent can be denied a third term, based on several factors, including the fact that Cuomo now heads a divided party, with about a third of the primary vote going to Nixon, who has no experience in government.

Cuomo also did not get the endorsement of the Democrat who head’s the nation’s largest municipality, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. The state’s largest teachers’ union, New York State United Teachers, a traditional ally of state Democrats, also stayed on the sidelines in the Democratic primary for governor. Meanwhile, Cuomo has alienated the Working Families Party, a small but scrappy third party that backs candidates with progressive platforms.

Complicating the general election will be several other names on the ballot. They include Stephanie Miner, a former Syracuse mayor and Democrat running on a minor party line who has had an icy relationship with Cuomo; perennial Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins, a socialist; and Libertarian Party candidate Larry Sharpe. And it remained unclear Friday if Nixon, who has the Working Families Party line, will try to get her name scrubbed from the ballot.

Molinaro, who turns 43 years old Oct. 8, contended that many New Yorkers have grown weary of Cuomo after having him as governor for eight years, preceded by four years as state attorney general. Molinaro said that he has criss-crossed the state several times in recent months, speaking to encouraging audiences.

“I stand up in a room to answer questions from 200 to 300 people,” he said. “Andrew Cuomo won’t even stand up in front of three reporters and take questions.”

In New York City on Friday, Cuomo argued that he clobbered Nixon in the primary because he offered New Yorkers “real-life solutions.”

“I received more votes in the Democratic primary than any governor in history,” he said. Not mentioned was the fact his campaign spent $21 million in preparation for the contest with Nixon.

Tom Dadey, chairman of the Onondaga County Republican Committee, said that in November, with voters having a wider menu of candidates from which to choose, Cuomo will find himself in a hard-fought race, especially in some upstate regions where he is less popular than President Donald Trump.

“The reality is a Republican can win because it will be such a diverse field, and Marc Molinaro has proven he is electable and likeable,” Dadey said. “He will energize our voters, while a guy like Andrew Cuomo is not well-liked. Even many Democrats don’t like him.”

At the end of the primary season, though, Cuomo could savor not only his own success but those of two candidates he endorsed. New York City Public Advocate Letitia James won the Democratic primary for attorney general, topping three rivals, while Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul finished ahead of Jumaane Williams, a New York City council member, in a hotly contested race.

A top Cuomo aide, Melissa DeRosa, tweeted that Democratic candidates who competed with Hochul and James made “cynical moves based on their finger in the wind calculus. The people of NY disagreed with them — and the people of New York, and Governor Cuomo were right and they were wrong.”

According to the state Board of Elections, Cuomo finished with 975,874 votes from a primary in which 24 percent of Democrats participated. Out of New York’s 11.3 million active voters, 5.3 million were registered Democrats as of April.

The primary offered Cuomo an opportunity to strengthen ties with the insurgents in his party but he squandered that chance, said Bill Samuels, a long-time progressive New York Democratic activist.

“He could have repaired the damage with people who may see him as an effective administrator but don’t see him as inspiring,” Samuels said.

September promises to be a bittersweet month for Cuomo. Though he accomplished his goal of defeating Nixon this week, Joseph Percoco, his campaign manager in 2014, is slated to be sentenced Thursday on felony convictions for his role in a bribery scheme linked to state economic development projects.

There have been no allegations that Cuomo was involved in the schemes.

In a letter to his sentencing judge, Percoco, who did not cooperate with federal investigators, apologized for his crimes.

“I lay awake at night filled not with the fear of what is to come for me, or the pain and embarrassment that I have brought upon myself, but with tremendous remorse for my actions and regret for the damage I have caused others,” the New York Law Journal quoted Percoco as writing.

Joe Mahoney covers the New York Statehouse for CNHI’s newspapers and websites. Reach him at