Conservative Herb London, who once almost caused the demise of the state GOP, believes Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s main rival this fall isn’t Rob Astorino, but rather his fellow Democrat, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“He’s not running against Rob Astorino, he’s running against Mr. de Blasio, London said during an interview on AM 970 THE ANSWER this morning.

“Every single comment he’s made has challenged the mayor of New York. He’s been very clever in organizing his campaign around what de Blasio is doing.”

“…he doesn’t mention Rob Astorino. He’s not running against Rob Astorino. He pretends Rob Astorino does not exist, and from the point of view of Cuomo that is correct,” London continued.

“But the rhetoric is not at all consistent with the actions. Rob Astorino is a good candidate. He has something to say.”

London, who is not attending the GOP convention in Rye Brook today, echoed comments made here earlier this afternoon by economist Larry Kudlow, suggesting Astorino’s strongest case in this campaign is on the economy and continued lack of growth in New York on Cuomo’s watch.

London said Astorino has his own “tale of two cities” (a Mario Cuomo reference) – the tale of Chautauqua, NY, where there are “tumbleweeds” on Main Street, and nearby Erie, PA, which is booming, thanks to fracking.

London, like Kudlow, accused Gov. Cuomo of “playing up to the environmental movement” by refusing to green light fracking in the Marcellus.

London, as you may recall, was the Conservative Party candidate for governor in 1990 – the year Democratic Gov. Mario Cuomo was seeking his second four-year term to office.

That year, the Conservatives declined to cross-endorse the GOP gubernatorial candidate, the little-known Canadian-born businessman Pierre Rinfret, deeming him too liberal to support.

Cuomo was re-elected in a landslide with 53 percent of the vote, while Rinfret received just over 21 percent and London got slightly more than 20 percent.

Had London managed to finish just a bit more strongly, the GOP would have lost its ballot line and been relegated to minor party status – an incident that haunts party members (those with long memories, anyway) to this very day.

It’s notable that London is raising the specter of de Blasio in connection with the governor’s race. The mayor and the governor spent much of the budget battle at odds over a host of issues – most prominently how to pay for universal pre-K.

As the latest liberal darling, de Blasio has become a new target of the national Republicans, who are reportedly alarmed by the the increasingly clout of left-wing activists.