As Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino openly mulls a run for governor against Democrat Andrew Cuomo next year, Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins Wednesday morning debuted what could be a broad line of criticism aimed at the Republican: Namely, the role of state government.

Stewart-Cousins, D-Yonkers, served with Astorino when both were on the county Board of Legislators, making her perhaps one of the few lawmakers in Albany who is familiar with the rising GOP star.

“He’s an affable person who has stuck very closely to his promise of making government smaller and not ever raising taxes,” she said on Susan Arbetter’s The Capitol Pressroom. “I think the disconnect is there are certainly things that there are things government can and must do. In Westchester County we’ve found a way to be able to do these things while still protecting the safety net and still protecting the most vulnerable.”

She drew a distinction between what Cuomo has been able to do in New York and the record of cutting taxes and spending and what type of role government plays in peoples’ lives.

“I think New York state is a place where people think good things should happen, but also expects the fact that government has a legitimate purpose in order to work efficiently and effectively,” she said.

This isn’t an entirely new strategy, given that Democrats and Republicans on the national level sought to turn the 2012 presidential election into a referendum on the role government plays as well.

And should Astorino run, he’d likely face questions about his stance on social issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage. But he also comes with two victories in a suburban swing county that has a heavy Democratic enrollment, making him both an attractive candidate to the GOP and a potentially competitive opponent for Cuomo.

“We obviously have work to do in terms of growing jobs and the economy and tax relief and things that all of us know to focus on to make New York stronger, but we’ve done a lot to relieve some of the pressures and move New York forward,” Stewart-Cousins said.

Asked if she would be a potential replacement for Lt. Gov. Bob Duffy next year on the statewide Democratic ticket, Stewart-Cousins laughed off the suggestion.

“I don’t really think that’s a question we have to worry about,” she said.  “I’m the Democratic leader, hopefully a majority leader sooner rather than later. I expect my role will be one in the Legislature that will be making policies happen for the benefit of all New Yorkers.”