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Andrew Cuomo meets and greets at the county fair
Andrew Cuomo meets and greets at the county fair

Cuomo's the front-runner, but voters still want to know more

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Andrew Cuomo and his RV are making a swing through eastern half of the North Country today. The Democratic candidate for Governor has appearances in Port Henry, Plattsburgh, and Saranac Lake. He'll march in the Seaway Festival parade in Ogdensburg tomorrow. The stops are part of Cuomo's plan to visit all 62 counties in his "Drive for a New New York" campaign. Yesterday, Cuomo held rallies in Watertown and Speculator, and he toured the Lewis County fair in Lowville. That's where David Sommerstein found the Democrat greeting fairgoers. He reports many voters still have questions before choosing New York's next Governor.

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Cuomo, his three daughters, and a niece are on the RV trip

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Reported by

David Sommerstein
Reporter/ Producer
Andrew Cuomo and his entourage turned heads on the midway at the Lewis County fair. Bulky bodyguards clear the way. Cameramen swoop and scramble for angles. At the snack tent, Kathleen Perkins of Lowville oohs and ahhs when Cuomo introduces himself and his three daughters. "I was delighted," she said. "I've watched him grow up. He looks just like his father.  His daughters are so big. I remember them when they were just little girls."

This is the image Cuomo's RV tour hopes to project--son of a three term Governor, a family man in a New York dynasty and the reputation of a tough attorney general and competent statesman. Perkins is buying it. "I'm a registered Republican, but, you know what, I vote for the man. Name somebody else who's as qualified," she said.

The GOP hopes names like Rick Lazio or Carl Paladino will come to mind. But so far the two Republican candidates trail Cuomo in polls by more than 30 points. And Cuomo's meet and greet here sometimes feels more like a victory lap than a campaign stop as voters offer up premature congratulations.

But for every committed voter, there's another two who haven't checked in to the Governor's race yet. Many don't even know who's running. And the dysfunction in Albany--managed or mismanaged by Cuomo's own party--is leaving some people disinterested and disgusted.

Cuomo stops to buy cotton candy and maple syrup from Brenda Zehm of Croghan. "I know what's going on in New York State and Albany," she says, "and it's not good."

Zehm, a Republican, says she doesn't know any of the candidates well enough to vote for them yet. What is she looking for? "Let me see, somebody who's going to look out for the people, bring jobs to New York State, have some high morals. I think that's one of the big problems in New York State," Zehm said.

The specter of Eliot Spitzer's resignation, David Paterson's ethical struggles, other lawmakers' clashes with the law, all have people worried. Andrew Cuomo--even as a lifelong Albany insider--is trying to play the outsider and worry right along with voters."They should be worried," Cuomo said. "I've never seen the state government this bad.  And there are no excuses that can be made."

Cuomo says his top priority is to create jobs. And to do that, he says, you have to reverse the state's deficit spending. "We have to learn how to make the government work more efficiently, more effectively, we need smaller government because you can't keep taxing people and businesses."

In the 4-H barn, Cuomo questions Sawyer Dunn on the ins and outs of calving. When Cuomo shakes his hand and walks away, Dunn looks confused. He's never heard of Cuomo. "I've never heard of the guy, but he's a good guy. Starts with a C. Is he running for Governor?"

So while political junkies see a lopsided Governor's race so far, plenty of voters have yet to tune in. And it's a long campaign trail to Election Day.

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