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Long Island Rep. Zeldin To Run For Governor

Lee Zeldin
Fox News
Lee Zeldin


Long Island Congressman Lee Zeldin says he will run for governor in 2022. The Republican, who has been a fierce critic of third-term Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo, made the announcement on Fox News this morning.

Zeldin is the latest Republican to test the waters. The Republican, who has been a fierce critic of third-term Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo, made the announcement on Fox News.

Zeldin is in his fourth term in the House representing the 1st district. The 41-year-old ally of former President Trump previously served in the state Senate.

“On so many different levels, everyone is coming to the conclusion, whether you’re Republican or Democrat, that this guy has been here too long. It’s time to go,” Zeldin said.

Cuomo has long planned to seek a fourth term, but his re-election chances are murky as he faces mounting scandals related to COVID-19 nursing home deaths, sexual harassment allegations, and his pandemic memoir.

“It’s the deadly nursing home order and cover-up, it’s all of the scandals of abuse, it’s the COVID testing preferential treatment to his family at private residences, with state department health officials,” Zeldin said.

Zeldin's announcement came a day after the son of former New York City mayor and Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani said he is considering a run. Andrew Giuliani, a former aide to President Trump, tells the Washington Examiner “I plan to run.”

Giuliani said he sees an opening for a Republican candidate. Giuliani is 35 and has not held elected office.

New York hasn’t elected a Republican governor since George Pataki won a third term in 2002.

Other potential GOP candidates could be Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, who lost to Cuomo in 2018 and has been ramping up his criticism of the governor, and North Country Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, who has called for Cuomo to resign while repeatedly referring to him as the “worst governor in America” on Twitter.

Stefanik, of the 21st district, is also a close Trump ally seen as a rising Republican star on the strength of her fundraising efforts. Now in her fourth term, Stefanik became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress in 2014. New York has never elected a female governor.

State Republican Party chair Nick Langworthy told WAMC he thinks voters will change their minds about one-party rule in Albany:

“It’s a lot of ground to cover, but I think that with a lot of the issues that are at the forefront, we have the opportunity to capture ground, because people see what’s happened with unbridled Democratic control,” Langworthy said.

Democrats have an overwhelming voter registration edge in New York.

Despite his political peril — with most of New York’s Congressional delegation and much of the state legislature calling on him to resign — public polls suggest it may be too early to write off Cuomo’s chances for a fourth term, even as he faces an Assembly impeachment inquiry and an investigation overseen by the attorney general.

A Quinnipiac poll in March found 49 percent of voters did not want Cuomo to step down, although two-thirds did not want Cuomo to seek a fourth term. A Siena poll released around the same time found a strong majority of Democrats and a plurality of independents think Cuomo can govern effectively despite the allegations.

In a statement Thursday, Langworthy said: "We’re thrilled that Congressman Zeldin has officially announced his candidacy for governor. Lee has served our nation honorably in the military, as a state senator and now in the federal government fighting for common sense policies for hardworking New Yorkers.  Lee Zeldin would make an excellent governor. The New York Republican Party’s number one goal is to elect a Republican Governor in 2022.   We have been planning and preparing day and night to run and win. At our NYGOP County Chairs meeting on April 19th, we look forward to hearing from Congressman Lee Zeldin and others who will seek the nomination for governor and other important statewide offices.”

A lifelong resident of the Capital Region, Ian joined WAMC in late 2008 and became news director in 2013. He began working on Morning Edition and has produced The Capitol Connection, Congressional Corner, and several other WAMC programs. Ian can also be heard as the host of the WAMC News Podcast and on The Roundtable and various newscasts. Ian holds a BA in English and journalism and an MA in English, both from the University at Albany, where he has taught journalism since 2013.