New York Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin announced Thursday that he is running for governor against Gov. Andrew Cuomo, blasting him for what he called a ‘deadly nursing home order and cover-up’ and saying the Democrat is vulnerable.
‘Listen, on so many different levels, everyone is coming to the conclusion — whether you’re Republican, Democrat, anywhere in between — that this guy has been there too long. It’s time to go,’ Zeldin told Fox & Friends Thursday morning.
Zeldin, who took office in 2015, represents a Long Island district, and is seeking to take on Cuomo in the Democratic-leaning state in 2022 where Republicans have struggled in statewide elections.
He called his race ‘a last great opportunity to save New York.’
New York Rep. Lee Zeldin announced he is running for governor against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo
He is a Trump loyalist who opposed both impeachments of the former president, and who often put himself on cable news to defend Trump against attacks and investigations.
‘This is the first time in my entire life that we have had one-party democratic rule in New York City, Albany, and D.C., and they’re all doing their part to destroy their levels of government. We have to — we can’t get complacent,’ he told the network.
He also tweeted about his run, describing New York as a city suffering under Democratic rule that was ‘forcing its own to leave’ – as Trump did during his presidency when he moved his official residency to Florida, a lower tax state.
Zeldin’s embrace of Trump could be a challenge in New York, a state Joe Biden carried with 61 per cent of the vote. Here Trump, right, greets Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., center, and his wife Diana Zeldin for a fundraiser in the Hamptons in 2019
‘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,’ he said.
Cuomo is seeking a fourth term at a time when numerous women have come forward to accuse him of sexual harassment. He is also under fire for his handling of the state’s coronavirus crisis over his order to send COVID-19 patients back to nursing home care facilities early in the outbreak.
Last month, while publicly mulling a run, Zeldin refused to say that President Joe Biden won the election.
Zeldin voted against counting votes January 6th in two states carried by Joe Biden. He pushed back when Politico interviewer Ryan Lizza asked if he could state ‘unequivocally’ that Biden won.
‘Yeah, Joe Biden’s the president of the United States,’ Zeldin responded. ‘And that’s how you become the president of the United States,’ Zeldin said.
Lizza tried again to get him to state directly that Biden won. ‘Is or was?’ he pressed.
‘I ask it very intentionally that he won the presidential election,’ Lizza explained.
Zeldin then shot back: ‘Yes. And then I went on to continue an answer. If you would like to give my answer for me, you can go ahead and do that. But I thought I was going to be here to answer my own questions,’ he said.
Cuomo faces a host of personal and political challenges, but among his first political plays if he were to face Zeldin would be to try to link him to Trump, who is not popular in his former home state. Joe Biden beat Trump there by 61 to 38 per cent in 2020.
The state attorney general’s office is conducting a probe of allegations of harassment, groping, and bullying behavior. Should Cuomo resign, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul would be the party’s standard bearer.
In yet another blow to Cuomo, the Washington Post reported his administration had provided special access to state coronavirus testing to Cuomo family members and other figures.
The state’s last Republican governor was George Pataki, who decided not to seek reelection in 2006.