Aides to Governor Cuomo tried to have his Republican challenger, Rob Astorino, removed from a prime speaking slot at a recent Business Council meeting, sources have told the Daily News.  Their efforts were rebuffed by meeting organizers who said Astorino had committed to speak in front of their group months ago.

Cuomo’s aides not only wanted Astorino bumped, but they wanted Cuomo to replace him.  Cuomo is scheduled to speak to the group on Friday.

Via the Daily News:

Rob Astorino, the Republican gubernatorial candidate, had a prime speaking spot Thursday night at the state Business Council annual conference. But if Gov. Cuomo’s campaign had its way, it would have been the governor addressing the business group at its gala dinner Thursday night, not Astorino.

Multiple sources say aides to Cuomo, who only formally committed last week to making an appearance during the three-day annual conference, were pressuring to have Astorino moved from the Thursday night speaking spot. But Business Council leaders, noting Astorino agreed to attend the conference months ago, refused, the sources said.

“They really wanted the governor to go on Thursday night, but the council wouldn’t do it,” said one source with knowledge of the discussions.

It appears Cuomo’s campaign strategy is to silence his opponents through any means necessary, whether it’s hiding from a debate challenge from Zephyr Teachout, or trying to get Astorino kicked from his agreed-to speaking schedule.

Astorino told the business leaders at the meeting that they need to stop cozying up to politicians in power and start electing people with actual business interests in mind.

More from the Daily News:

After citing a host of statistics he argued shows New York’s economy lagging behind the rest of the country, he told the group: “here’s my beef with the New York state business community. You stand for it.”

“You have the clout, the power, to demand better,” he said. “Yet you reward leaders who at best are managing the steady decline in New York.”

He accused many in the business community of holding back out of fear of angering the governor’s office, state legislative leaders and City Hall.

“In elections, as soon as it looks like a winner is emerging from the pack, the money pours into that campaign, regardless of the candidate’s economic views,” Astorino said.

Business Council President Heather Briccetti said Astorino’s message and subsequent challenge to stand up to anti-business politicians was well received.  Briccetti said, “He was on point with what our members are saying.”