By Ethan Stark-Miller
With overwhelming support, Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) received the state GOP’s endorsement in the Republican gubernatorial primary on Tuesday.
Zeldin blew his primary competitors out of the water, receiving 85 percent support from the party’s voting committee members, which automatically puts him on the ballot for the June primary. In his acceptance speech, Zeldin called on his competitors and the entire party to unite behind his campaign in a bid to defeat the Democratic Party up and down the ticket in November.
“We need to come out of this convention, as unified as this party has been in decades,” Zeldin said to a cheering crowd. “Over the next few months, I ask you to support this mission and to support this party. To help us – don’t work against us – because when we rally together, we are stronger than ever. We are unbeatable in a year that will be the biggest Republican wave of our lifetime.”
Also making their case for the endorsement were former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, businessman Harry Wilson and Andrew Giuliani – son of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Astorino and Wilson tied with seven percent of the vote, while Giuliani received less than one percent.
While addressing the convention, Zeldin drilled down on many of the central tenets of his campaign – increasing public safety and cutting taxes. For instance, Zeldin said he would immediately reverse the bail reforms passed by the state legislature in 2019, claiming the laws’ passage caused the city’s recent increase in crime.
“People are losing their lives, their livelihoods, they don’t feel safe on their streets,” Zeldin said. “This isn’t a red issue. This is a purple issue or a blue issue. For all New Yorkers who are watching right now, the message of our party, our principles, our values (is that) we want you to feel safe outside of your homes.”
Additionally, Zeldin said he believes progressive prosecutors like Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg – who’s only been on the job for two months – should be removed from office for choosing not to change people for certain crimes.
Zeldin also criticized Democrats for COVID-19 vaccine mandates, promising he would rehire any New York City employees who lost their jobs for failing to comply with the requirements.
The Congressman said the Democrat’s push to increase taxes and regulations have hampered the state’s recovery from the pandemic. This stands in stark contrast to Republican leadership, he added, which would help the state economy rebound by being more open to business and economic development.
“They want to tax you to death,” Zeldin said. “They want to regulate you to death. We are the party with the simple solutions, who will bring New York back. Where businesses can come to New York, like Amazon and others, and never be afraid that we’re going to be stiff arming them. We want the jobs. We want the opportunity. We want the industry. New York is going to prosper again and it’s not going to take that long to get it done.”
Winning the state party’s endorsement today all assures Zeldin frontrunner status to be the party’s nominee in November. Because Astorino, Wilson and Giuliani all received less than 25 percent of the vote today, they’ll have to gather at least 15,000 signatures in order to join Zeldin on the ballot.
This story first appeared on PoliticsNY.com.