ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – The countdown for candidates to get their name on New York State’s gubernatorial ballot is coming to a close as the April deadline nears. New and familiar faces are joining the race — or still pondering the idea — but one potential candidate has both political parties shaking their heads.

That potential candidate is former New York State Governor and disgraced Democrat Andrew Cuomo, who reluctantly resigned in 2021 after an investigation by his own party found the multiple sexual harassment allegations made against him by 11 women were credible.

Though Cuomo has not formally announced a bid for the state’s highest office, his representatives have invested millions of dollars in television and newspaper advertisements proclaiming his innocence.

Republican leaders and lawmakers representing the Southern Tier tell 18 News they don’t want the former governor to win the gubernatorial race, but they do want him to run for office. They said that’s because Cuomo only has a matter of weeks to come up with thousands of signatures to qualify him for the Democratic primary. If Cuomo can’t gather enough signatures, he would have to create his own party and run against current Democratic governor Kathy Hochul.

“That will have the ability to divide the vote,” New York Republican Assemblymember Philip Palmesano said. “That can certainly be helpful to a Republican candidate for governor.”

New York State Senator Tom O’Mara and Chemung County Executive Chris Moss agreed with Palmesano, citing that scenario could propel a Republican into the state’s highest office.

“It’s a win-win situation for Republicans,” Moss said. “If you have a Democratic governor and an independent candidate who’s also a Democrat, they’re going to split the vote. Then, the Republicans end up with more votes and the Republican ends up in office.”

However, recent polls show that Cuomo would likely lose the race. The Emerson College/The Hill poll released a theoretical Democratic primary that showed Cuomo would walk away with 33-percent of the vote and his successor, Gov. Kathy Hochul, would take home 37-percent of the vote. New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and Long Island Congressman Tom Suozzi received less than 10-percent of the vote in that poll. Nine percent of voters were undecided.

“I’m not entertaining hypotheticals,” Gov. Hochul said. “I have a number of opponents who have declared already and the petition process ends 22 days, so I’m not looking for any more people to be speculating about. I have enough to worry about day-to-day.”