GOP congressman launches bid for New York governor, taking aim at Cuomo

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Washington — Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin announced Thursday he is running for governor of New York in 2022, seeking to unseat embattled Governor Andrew Cuomo.

In a series of tweets announcing his run and video rolling out his campaign, Zeldin positioned himself as the candidate who can “bring New York from the brink and return it to glory” after Cuomo’s decade in the governor’s mansion.

“Under Andrew Cuomo, public safety is under attack due to Cuomo’s liberal policies like cashless bail and abandoning our police,” a narrator states in a video announcing Zeldin’s candidacy. “Punishing taxes have devastated New York families and businesses, forcing them to flee Cuomo’s New York, and record numbers are leaving New York state.”

Congressman Lee Zeldin speaks at a ceremony at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York, on September 18, 2020.

John Paraskevas/Newsday RM via Getty Images

The ad goes on to claim Cuomo, a Democrat, has “disgraced him and embarrassed our state,” citing the multiple allegations of sexual misconduct against him and accusations his administration covered up the scale of deaths in nursing homes from the coronavirus. The governor is also facing claims he enacted a policy that exacerbated the spread of COVID-19 among residents of group homes and long-term care facilities.

“The bottom line is this: To save New York, Cuomo’s gotta go,” Zeldin’s ad states. “It’s time for new leadership. It’s time for Lee Zeldin.”

A native of Long Island, Zeldin served in the U.S. Army on active duty for four years and is currently a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve. He ran his own law practice until his election to the New York state Senate in 2010. In 2014, Zeldin was elected to the U.S. House, representing New York’s 1st Congressional District.

“We have two choices: We can raise the white flag and surrender to mediocrity, corruption, cover-ups or job losses, and even higher taxes. We might as well just turn the lights off,” Zeldin says in the ad. “Or we can roll up our sleeves and get to work to save our state. That’s what I’m going to do as New York’s next governor.”

Because New York does not have term limits for governor, Cuomo can seek a fourth term in office. He won reelection in 2018 with 59.6% of the vote, defeating Republican Marc Molinaro by 23 points.

The field of Republicans seeking the governorship in New York is still forming. Andrew Giuliani, son of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, said Wednesday he is “strongly considering” a run, according to the New York Times. Rob Astorino, former Westchester County executive and Republican candidate for governor in 2014, is also weighing another shot at the governor’s mansion, according to the New York Post.

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