Rep. Lee Zeldin, a Staunch Conservative, Will Run for N.Y. Governor
Mr. Zeldin, an avid supporter of former President Donald Trump who voted to overturn the results of November’s election, said that to “save New York, Andrew Cuomo’s gotta go.”,
Representative Lee Zeldin, a New York Republican and avid supporter of former President Donald J. Trump, declared on Thursday that he was entering the 2022 race for governor of New York, hoping to emerge as his party’s challenger to embattled Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.
“The bottom line is this: To save New York, Andrew Cuomo’s gotta go,” Mr. Zeldin, a staunch conservative who represents parts of Long Island, said in a news release.
Mr. Cuomo, a third-term Democrat, is in the midst of the greatest crisis of his political life, facing investigations and accusations of sexual harassment. Many of the state’s Democratic leaders have asked Mr. Cuomo to resign, and whether he will ultimately run for re-election next year is an open question.
But any Republican, especially one closely tied to Mr. Trump, would face an extraordinarily uphill battle running statewide in New York. And there is no doubt about how deeply Mr. Zeldin has embraced Mr. Trump and his politics, including by voting to overturn the results of the November election, a record that would instantly disqualify him in the eyes of many voters should he make it to a general election.
Republicans haven’t won a statewide election since 2002, and Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than two to one.
But Mr. Zeldin’s candidacy also speaks to Mr. Cuomo’s perceived vulnerability: Republican candidates for governor in New York tend to have less political stature, given the challenges of competing statewide.
The congressman has something of a national profile and national donor base in Republican circles. He previewed on Thursday how he would seek to position himself in a heavily Democratic state.
“With one-party Democrat rule in New York City and Albany, the light that once shone as a beacon of what America can be has gone dark,” he said.
“The New York that was once a magnet for the world’s best and brightest is now forcing its own to leave under the crushing weight of skyrocketing taxes, lost jobs, suffocating regulations, and rising crime resulting from dangerously liberal policies.”
In his campaign announcement video, Mr. Zeldin made no mention of Mr. Trump, instead seeking to keep his message focused on quality-of-life concerns and economic matters and lacing into Mr. Cuomo.
. It’s a political background that may be important in a Republican primary, but one that would be instantly disqualifying in the eyes of many New Yorkers in a general election, should he reach that point.
“He’s a congressman, soldier and family man, fighting to protect our wallets, our safety and our freedoms,” the video says.
Mr. Zeldin will be one of at least three declared or potential Republican candidates interested in running for governor who will appear in Albany, N.Y., on April 19 to meet with Republican county chairs to lobby for their support.
Others include Rob Astorino, the party’s 2014 nominee for governor, and Andrew Giuliani, the son of Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former New York City mayor and Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer.
Mr. Zeldin made his initial announcement on Fox News.