Zeldin Declares He’s Running for Governor

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) leads at a news conference with 10 other Republican members of Congress announcing their introduction of a U.S. House resolution alleging misconduct in the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation and requesting the appointment of a second special counsel to investigate the law enforcement probes into the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., May 22, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis

After weeks of toying with the idea, U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), made it official Thursday and announced that he is officially running for governor of New York State next year.

Republicans were trying to recruit the East End congressman to challenge Gov. Andrew Cuomo. But since that story broke, the incumbent Democratic governor has been under mounting pressure to resign amid an impeachment probe into sexual harassment allegations and his administration’s alleged undercounting of the coronavirus nursing home death statistics, casting a cloud over the prospects of a fourth term for Cuomo.

“I will bring the kind of relentless, fighting spirit towards helping to save our state that Andrew Cuomo only reserves for multi-million dollar self-congratulatory book deals, cover-ups, abuse and self-dealing,” said Zeldin, whose campaign launched the website ZeldinforNewYork.com. “For many, this feels like a last stand to save our state. Losing is not an option.”

The four-term congressman and former New York State senator previously made national news for his defense of former President Donald Trump’s first impeachment inquiry in 2018. If he won, he would be the first Republican governor of the Empire State since George Pataki left office in 2006.

The announcement comes a day after the Nassau and Suffolk GOP leaders declared their support for Zeldin’s gubernatorial aspirations. 

“If we’re going to turn this ship around, we need Lee Zeldin at the helm,” said Suffolk County Republican Party Chairman Jesse Garcia, noting the candidate’s credentials as a veteran and former prosecutor.

“Time and time again, he has delivered for Long Island,” said Nassau County Republican Party chairman Joseph Cairo.

State GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy is keeping his options open.

“Lee Zeldin would make an excellent governor,” Langworthy said in a statement. “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 19, we look forward to hearing from Congressman Lee Zeldin and others who will seek the nomination for governor and other important statewide offices.”
New York State Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs issued a statement in response.
“New Yorkers will never elect a Republican like Lee Zeldin who has continued to tie himself tightly to Donald Trump, QAnon conspiracy theories, and who has continued to support the ‘Big Lie’ that the presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump and that Joe Biden is not legitimately in office,” said Jacobs, who previously called on Zeldin to resign for voting against certifying Biden’s electoral win. “Not only will he never serve as our Governor, he doesn’t even deserve to serve in Congress.”
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