Lee Zeldin Becomes Presumptive GOP Gubernatorial Nominee
Rep. Lee Zeldin was named the Republican party’s presumptive nominee for governor Monday, after a straw poll awarded him 85% of the weighted vote among county chairs in New York.
Only one county Republican chair voted for someone other than Zeldin, with Westchester going to Rob Astorino, who made a virtual appearance at today’s event. Astorino is planning to stay in the race.
Andrew Giulinani, who received no votes, is planning to stay in the race as well.
“I think we’re the favorite, I think it’s early in the game. To take an analogy, I think it’s in the second inning, it’s good to be up a couple runs in the second inning,” Giuliani said.
Giuliani said that what sets him apart from other candidates in the race is the ability to earn crossover support. Other candidates are focused on problems, while he’s aiming for solutions, he said.
“What we’re gonna do from a deregulatory agenda, how we’re gonna actually put pressure on the Assembly and State Senators to create tax cuts in New York State and not compete with California,” he said.
“What we’re gonna do from an educational opportunity standpoint, whether it’s school choice, whether it’s getting rid of critical race theory, and how we’re gonna stop this war on our cops on day one.”
Many of those priorities are shared by Zeldin, who was the only candidate to exceed the 50% of votes needed in the straw poll Monday to be named the party’s presumptive nominee for governor in 2022.
Zeldin said that when it comes to the general election, he has a history of success when it comes to crossing political lines, which he said gives him the best shot at defeating Gov. Andrew Cuomo, or any other Democrat on the ticket.
"I just won seven consecutive races in New York City, purple, suburban districts," Zeldin said. “In 2010, I unseated an incumbent Senate Democrat, who between him and his father, were there in office for 30 years.”
State Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy said he had confidence in Zeldin as the party’s presumptive nominee, and predicted that the overwhelming support for the Long Island member of Congress was unlikely to change in the coming months.
“It’s one thing to say you’re gonna run a primary, it’s another to go get 25% of the weighted vote at the convention, which gives you automatic ballot status, or to go circulate petitions, which have to be indicative of the whole state of New York and it’s a very large number ,” Langworthy said.
Downstate businessman Derrick Gibson was also at Monday’s forum, but also didn’t receive any of the weighted vote. He was motivated to run by what he said was the overall direction of the state, in a series of categories.
“Somebody’s got to step up, and be the parents, and chastise, and bring you in with love, and show you where your error’s at. This is what’s got to happen in our nation in order to bring it back to where it needs to be, our traditional values,” Gibson said.
Lewis County Sheriff Michael Carpinelli was also among those seeking the Republican nomination in the race for governor. Of the total vote-casters in the straw poll, 10% abstained from choosing a favorite in the contest.
Outside of gubernatorial candidates, there was one potential candidate for U.S. Senate: Joseph Pinion, a host at Newsmax. While Pinion, based in Yonkers, hasn’t committed to a run yet, he says he has the tools to challenge Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
“On some basic level I’ve always been in politics, I’ve also been in the private sector, so I think in many ways trying to bridge that gap, when the government can bridge that gap … all of those things can come together,” Pinion said.
There were also two potential candidates for New York Attorney General at Monday’s forum. While neither has committed to a run, both said that public safety should be a key part of the agenda for any candidate.
New York City Lawyer Michael Henry said current Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, has essentially become an advocate for Cuomo.
“I don’t think she’s done a good job advocating for the people of New York. I find it hard to be a chief law enforcement officer, when you clearly seem to not believe in law enforcement,” Henry said.
Similar sentiments were expressed by John Sarcone, an attorney from Westchester County who’s also considering a challenge against James.
Sarcone a former member of the Trump administration, where he worked as the Regional Administrator for the United States General Services Administration’s Northeast and Caribbean Region.
“We have a Democratic party at the top, that’s ready to legalize prostitution. I don’t think many of you people realize that if that’s legal, there would be an increased demand, and I don’t think there are that many willing people,” Sarcone said.
“So that would mean human trafficking, which is going on today, but it would be increased even more.”
Democrats in the state Legislature do not currently have the votes among their colleagues to approve a measure that would decriminalize sex work.
When it comes to the candidates who were at today’s event for non-gubernatorial races, Langworthy said it’s too early to tell who the frontrunners might be.
“We certainly haven’t put a lid on that, we don’t have a timeline on that, but we are going to keep the statewide search going,” Langworthy said.
He said that Zeldin appears to be the “franchise quarterback,” after which the rest of the party will take shape heading into next year’s election cycle.
For key races in the state, the primary election decides who's expected to take the seat in November.
Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, speaking on the Senate floor Thursday evening as the session drew to a close, indicated the legislature’ s business is done for the year.
Speaking to reporters in Albany, Astorino slammed the mandate, saying it’s caused confusion for parents around the state during the final weeks of the school year.
Those powers gave Cuomo the power to close schools and businesses, require masks and social distancing, and regulate how many people could gather at one time.