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Republican attorney general candidate defends stance on women's rights

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Albany/HV: Republican attorney general candidate defends stance on women's rights
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SENECA FALLS, N.Y. -- Republicans will meet this week to put together a statewide ticket for the November election. And now they have a choice for attorney general.

John Cahill, a former official in the Pataki administration, has taken to the campaign trail. Even before his formal announcement Sunday, John Cahill was under attack by women's groups, warning his election would jeopardize reproductive rights.

On day two of the campaign, there was Cahill, visiting the birthplace of women's rights and saying he would not roll back any rights.

"I am a practicing Catholic. I follow the tenets of my faith. But, as attorney general, I'm elected to enforce the laws of the state of New York. I would take a solemn oath to do that," said Cahill, a Yonkers resident.

At issue has been his opposition to the 10th point of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's 10-point women's rights agenda. It's the point dealing with codifying the Roe v. Wade decision into state law.

"Our focus should be, obviously, on equal opportunity, equal pay. The 10th point to that plan is extraordinarily divisive," Cahill said.

Cahill, a former state Environmental Conservation commissioner under Gov. George Pataki, also faces criticism from opponents of hydrofracking. He said he favors the process, if it can be done in an environmentally safe way.

Fracking opponents have now filed an ethics claim against Cahill and Pataki, claiming they have represented energy companies in the debate, while failing to register as lobbyists.

"We've never involved in lobbying, and good luck to them on their filing of whatever paper they filed today," he said.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has been mum on his potential opponent.

He ducked questions Friday during a commencement speech at Syracuse University's School of Law. And, again today, during an appearance in Queens, he took no questions.

It's been left to supporters to praise his work and warn of Cahill's potential impact, especially in the area of reproductive rights.

"When we think that they are not an issue, that's when, all of a sudden, the other side comes in and starts taking back our rights," Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner said.

Cahill vows to turn the campaign to other issues in the months ahead. Including the quality of education and the need to defend charter schools -- and the question of government integrity and the role of an attorney general in cleaning up Albany.

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