Tonawanda News — As the billionaire Donald Trump continues to toy with the idea of launching a campaign for governor against the popular incumbent Andrew Cuomo, local Republicans were afforded the chance to size him up last Friday.
But few were able to get closer to Trump than Niagara County GOP Chief Scott Kiedrowski, who was invited to a private meeting with the bombastic real estate tycoon and reality television star, in a back room of Salvatore’s Italian Garden with about 25 others, including state GOP Chair Ed Cox.
Kiedrowski, who is also the North Tonawanda clerk-treasurer, said he wasn’t expecting the private invitation as he arrived on Transit Road to a crowd of about 75 Trump supporters toting signs in opposition to the New York State SAFE Act, a law Trump also opposes.
Kiedrowski said he was introduced to Trump by Erie County Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy, taking a quick picture and entering into a short conversation with the famous New York City resident. After Trump spoke to a crowd of approximately 600, Kiedrowski said he was shuffled off to a private room.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect but when I got there it was unbelievable,” Kiedrowski said. “It was very interesting because he was really frank about running.”
But while that commitment hasn’t been made yet, as Trump waits to see if Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino makes a bid on the Republican ticket, Kiedrowski said he and other republican county chairs are also holding out before giving their support to any one candidate.
“You don’t want to commit and then find out one or the other decided to drop out,” Kiedrowski said. “I’m taking the wait-and-see approach as I think every other county chairperson is.”
“It’s been in the papers, he’s looking to run opposition free,” Kiedrowski continued, on Trump. “He said he feels New York is in some dire need of change, he was very down to earth and plain spoken. A lot of individuals I run into in North Tonawanda say they want someone they can speak to in elected office. Talking to Mr. Trump was like having a conversation with a friend next door.”
Kiedrowski, who said he agreed to keep the backroom discussion close to the vest, said that despite the political uncertainty for Republicans, an in-person greeting with a man who has gained international recognition was at the very least surreal.
“It was just amazing to be that close to someone you’ve only seen on television,” he said. “He’s actually a very tall man. You hear about him, about the hairstyle. It’s all 100 percent true. As I told my wife and children and friends I thought it was pretty neat that a Polish kid from NT got to shake hands with Donald Trump, regardless of politics.”