WATERTOWN — Christopher Moss isn’t looking for a ceremonial position.
That’s what he told Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino when Mr. Astorino approached him about being his running mate.
“It’s not ribbon cutting,” Mr. Astorino reportedly told Mr. Moss, who is the sheriff of Chemung County.
“He was interested in several of my ideas,” Mr. Moss said.
And thus was born the Republican ticket that will take on the formidable challenge of toppling Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo from the top office in a state that heavily favors his Democratic politics.
“We know it’s an uphill battle, but we can win it,” Mr. Moss said.
Mr. Moss, who was first elected sheriff in 2005 and re-elected in 2009 and 2013, said that his background in law enforcement makes him a good candidate for the office, both in terms of his on-the-job experience and familiarity with the electoral process.
Like Mr. Astorino, Mr. Moss is positioning himself as a pro-business candidate in favor of reducing taxes and regulations. He voiced support for hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, an extraction technique that has been subject to a moratorium in the state under Gov. Cuomo.
Describing the governor as a “bully,” Mr. Moss said many of the people with whom he has spoken have been frustrated with the policies of Mr. Cuomo, who is seeking re-election this year.
Principal among these policies is the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act, of which Mr. Moss has been an outspoken critic.
In a meeting with Times editorial staff Thursday, Mr. Moss said that while there are a few provisions in the law that are “OK,” including stiffer penalties for those convicted of shooting first responders, much of the law was misguided and ended up punishing law-abiding gun owners and doing little to curb gun violence.
Mr. Moss said he would focus more on keeping criminals and mentally ill individuals from gaining access to firearms, though he did not provide specifics about what those efforts might entail.
Mr. Moss also was critical of the Common Core, a set of revised education standards adopted by the state Board of Regents in 2010. The initiative, which has been adopted in more than 40 states, has drawn fire in New York state for its rapid rollout, which critics say gave students and teachers little time to prepare.
Mr. Moss did say that government could play an important role in both shoring up the state’s often-endangered system of rural hospitals and working to find solutions to foster business growth and retain businesses, such as the agreement the state brokered with Alcoa and the New York Power Authority.
Mr. Moss was supportive of an initiative to arm law enforcement officers with the overdose-reversal drug naloxone hydrochloride, or Narcan, as the state grapples with an apparent increase in opioid and heroin abuse. He said the state’s focus in combating the drug epidemic should be on treatment and education. He said he was not in favor of medical marijuana.
Mr. Moss also said he has learned a great deal about the significance of Fort Drum to the economy of the north country since entering the race and is supportive of a larger military.
“You can never have too many soldiers and you can never have too many cops,” he said.
Mr. Moss joined the Chemung County Sheriff’s Office in 1989 and worked in investigations and road patrol and as commander of the criminal investigative division. He holds a master’s degree from Marist College, Poughkeepsie, and a bachelor’s degree from SUNY Empire State College. He is president of the New York State Sheriffs Association.