Kurt Colucci, a 36-year-old conservative and Tea Party firebrand from New Rochelle , made a big splash on Feb. 22 when he announced that he was running for county executive in Westchester because the Republican incumbent, Rob Astorino, “lied to me, lied to the Conservatives, lied to the Tea Party and I am fed up.”
Things immediately got nasty. The Astorino campaign sent out a press release, showing bizarre images that Colucci’s father posted on Facebook. One of them was a photo with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s head superimposed onto a saluting figure attired in a Nazi uniform– the caption said: “our gov homo.”
After that brief dust up, there was nothing from the would-be candidate.
Colucci who pledged that he was in the county executive race “to the bitter end,” was never seen nor heard from again.
After hearing a rumor that Colucci had dropped out of the race, I decided to track him down. First I called his place of employment and was told he didn’t work there anymore. Then I called his campaign treasurer, Marie Hope Russo, who replied “yes” when I asked her if Colucci was still running. She then relayed my query to Colucci who called me back on his cell phone.
Colucci told me he decided not to go forward with petitions because he knew he couldn’t raise enough money.
He said the country is “flirting with the dark side of history” because “everything is fueled by money and special interests.” Raising money in a race that could end up costing Astorino and his Democratic opponent Noam Bramson anywhere from $3 million to $5 milion, was too a big an obstacle for Colucci to overcome.
“I gave it my best attempt in terms of just trying to get a message out there,” he said, adding, “I can’t even say it fell on deaf ears but people who were supposed to echo the message in the media never did.” By “media,” he may have been referring to Sam Zherka, the publisher of the Westchester Guardian weekly, who was an early booster of Colucci.
Colucci said he has met with Astorino in recent weeks, but he stressed that he didn’t make any deals in exchange for ending his candidacy. He said Astorino was the “lesser of two evils” in the race.
“I’ll probably be working with Rob in terms of just supporting, but in terms of a paid position, no,” he said. “I would never take a dollar from anyone that contributed to a political campaign nor would I take a dollar from any forcibly extorted money that came from taxpayers. That I’ll take to my dying breath.”
I ran the job rumor past Bill O’Reilly, Astorino’s campaign spokesman. He emailed: “No on the job. Didn’t happen.”
Colucci talked like someone who become disillusioned.
“I’m thinking of checking out of politics entirely because it’s a lose-lose proposition either way,” he said.