Zeldin is GOP's 'presumed nominee' against Cuomo after straw poll of county leaders

Rep. Lee Zeldin speaks during a press conference on Capitol Hill. | Jacquelyn Martin / AP Photo

COLONIE, N.Y. – New York Republicans have informally anointed the US representative. Lee Zeldin, a four-year congressman from Suffolk County on Long Island, as her election for governor the next year when Andrew Cuomo may run for a fourth term.

Zeldin received 85 percent of the weighted vote in a straw poll conducted during a district leaders meeting in suburban Albany. State party leader Nick Langworthy said Zeldin is now viewed as a “presumed candidate,” giving him around 17 months to raise support and donations for the 2022 general election.

But the size of Zeldin’s support didn’t deter other GOP hopefuls, including Andrew Giuliani, suggesting that Zeldin could face a primary next June.

Zeldin said he was confident he built the operation strong enough to withstand a challenge from fellow Republicans in a primary and from Democrats in the general election. “The predominance of fire in the military, as I’m trained, is that for every single bullet fired at you, three will be shot back,” said Zeldin, a 41-year-old Iraq veteran and a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve .

“The political [equivalent] for me is you shoot back 50,000, ”he added. “I put together a coalition of tens of thousands of people for a race like this to make absolutely sure that we crush it on November 8th, 2022. And any enrollment or anything that stands in our way between now and November 8, 2022. We are doing everything in our power to deal with them effectively, “he said, referring to the day of the parliamentary elections.

“Lee deserved this,” said Langworthy. “I know there are some candidates who speculate that there was a back door [dealing]… it was a front door campaign. It was absolutely a campaign on the doorstep because Lee Zeldin was crossing this state at a breakneck pace that I have never seen before. “

Langworthy has long said that a daunting challenge for Cuomo would require early and unified support from a single candidate. Nonetheless, at least three candidates said they would continue their pitches in front of the state’s 2.9 million registered Republican voters, seizing a moment when the Democratic incumbent – should he run for re-election – faces a series of scandals which lead to an investigation by the attorney general and impeachment proceedings in the state assembly.

“I think that’s too early,” said Giuliani, son of former New York mayor and Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani. “I think if you just look at the numbers, you’ll find that we do better in area codes in blue states.”

Giuliani, a former Trump adviser who never ran for political office and whose high-profile father is running against federal investigations, said he believes he has more crossover support than Zeldin, a necessity in a state around 6.7 Millions registered Democrats and about 3 million registered in no party.

Former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, who lost to Cuomo in 2014 but is hoping for a rematch next year, was tougher in his assessment and called the vote “meaningless” in a statement. (He was absent from the convention because of a planned trip for his 20th wedding anniversary.) Astorino Homeland Support gave him 5 percent of the weighted vote. Ten percent of the weighted votes came from a handful of abstaining circles. No other candidate received part of the weighted votes.

“The 3 million Republicans across New York will decide who is the strongest candidate in next June’s primary, not a few dozen party insiders, many of whom have told me they have been pressured into confirming that they weren’t ready. ”said Astorino.

Lewis County Sheriff Michael Carpinelli, the first candidate to challenge Cuomo last year, also said he would continue his campaign. Queens businessman Derrick Gibson said he hadn’t made the decision yet.

Langworthy conceded that the other candidates had the right to continue their campaign, but noted that their success may depend largely on whether they can continue to find funding and get the necessary support for the primary through the petition process, and arduous ones Task in New York.

He said Spender and other party officials have told him they don’t want primaries, with all the energy and money such a competition can consume. “The donors understand, our party activists understand, and I think the candidates deep down understand that having a primary in a state where we have so many enrollments only enables us to use up resources that we absolutely don’t should waste. ”“ Langworth said.

Republicans are focused on rising crime from Brooklyn to Buffalo and high taxes that are supposedly driving New Yorkers out of the state. They accuse democratic control of the governor’s office and both legislatures for promoting policies further to the left than they believe most New Yorkers support them. Langworthy said he expected Cuomo to emerge as the Democratic candidate next year despite the many scandals he faces.

The GOP candidates rely as much on Cuomo’s precarious political position in their messages as they do on the idea that he has been in power too long. To that end, Zeldin said he would support introducing term restrictions on the governor and, even if it did not do so during his hypothetical tenure, he would not attempt more than two terms.

Zeldin said during an event in April that his campaign raised $ 2.5 million in the first 10 days but declined to raise those sums on Monday. Campaign funding submissions are due July 15. However, after a fundraiser last week on Long Island, he said he learned that two of the waitresses who worked on the event donated $ 25 and $ 19, respectively.

“There are a lot of people who have helped us and there are more people who will help us with this campaign,” he said. “But I’ll tell you honestly, nothing is more valuable to me in this race than getting the $ 19 cash donation from this waitress. That speaks [volumes] where we are and where we are going. “

At least one of his main opponents has a slightly different strategy when it comes to building a war chest, although Lewis County sheriff Carpinelli said his campaign manager “will kick me in the seat for saying this.”

“I’m sick of the way we do it in New York,” he said when asked about his fundraising ability. “People are coming out of this pandemic today who had no jobs, they lost their jobs, they are trying to get them back, they are trying to collect their rent, they are trying to make up the car payments, and now I have to ask them for some money ? It kills me. So it is the generosity of the people alone. I won’t go out and ask. “

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