Republican Rob Astorino’s message in his race for governor is a straightforward one: jobs and people are leaving New York.

“It’s a stop sign to growth. And that’s why we are dead last in this country in business climate, highest taxes, you go on and on. What matters to people is we are the worst of the worst in this country,” Astorino told reporters at the Lewis County Fair in Lowville.

Astorino blames Democratic incumbent Andrew Cuomo for high taxes, too many regulations and a lack of focus on the upstate economy.

“And that’s because of Andrew Cuomo’s policies. We’ve got to make a big change is what I’m running on,” said Astorino.

But Cuomo during his first term has aggressively courted the state’s business community, traditional allies of Republicans. That was on display several driving hours to the south, at General Electric in Niskayuna on Tuesday, when Cuomo announced a $153 million state investment in the high-tech sector.

“The fact is, the governor has delivered. The governor has followed up on things that are important to this state. The START-UP NY is an important initiative,” said Jeffrey Immelt, the General Electric CEO.

Immelt said he spoke to Cuomo shortly after the 2010 election, telling him what was wrong about the state’s approach to businesses.

Cuomo has taken left turns along the way, supporting a Democratic takeover of the state Senate and a faster increase of the state’s minimum wage, plus allowing local governments to raise the wage on their own.

But Cuomo still earns praise from Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos for working with Republicans in the chamber, who along with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Democrat, was flown up for the event.

“But in the end, working with the speaker and the governor, we have had four on time budgets, we’re controlling government spending and taxes aimed at creating jobs,” Skelos said.

And perhaps responding at least indirectly to the criticism from Astorino, Cuomo describes the current state of the economy.

“We have turned the corner, the arrows are pointed in the right direction and the best is yet to be. The ship had to be turned, but the ship is turned and the momentum is with us and we’re going to keep it going,” Cuomo said.