Rep. Lee Zeldin, a staunch supporter of former President Donald Trump, declared his intention to run for governor of New York next year, saying that embattled Democratic incumbent Andrew Cuomo “has to go” to “save our state.”
New York is a predominantly blue state, but Republicans see an opportunity in 2022 with a potentially wounded nominee in Cuomo, who has been embroiled in many controversies and has a dwindling popularity among New Yorkers.
“From the tax policy to the public safety to the attacks on our freedoms, we’re seeing a weakened governor because of all of the scandals, the loss of life, the cover-up, the investigations, but it’s been impacting us in many ways and it’s time for us to do something about it,” Zeldin, a New York Republican who represents part of Long Island, said in an interview on “Fox & Friends.”
Zeldin also made his announcement on Twitter, claiming that “the light that was a beacon of what America can be has gone dark” in New York City and Albany, and that Cuomo is at the “helm” of the state’s “downfall.”
Cuomo has not said if he will seek re-election to a fourth term next year. He’s been governor for a decade, and the state hasn’t had a Republican governor since Georgia Pataki stepped down in 2006.
This week, Zeldin is the second prominent Republican to declare his intention to run for governor. Andrew Giuliani, the son of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and a Trump aide, said he plans to run for president in an interview released Wednesday by the Washington Examiner.
During Trump’s presidency, Zeldin was a strong supporter of the president, even openly defending him during his second impeachment trial this year. He also voted against certifying the 2020 election results in Arizona and Pennsylvania, echoing Trump’s false allegations of widespread election fraud. After four years in the New York state Senate, Zeldin was elected to Congress for the first time in 2014.
Cuomo was comfortably re-elected in 2018 over progressive opponent Cynthia Nixon, but his political future is now in jeopardy due to two scandals. He’s the subject of two separate inquiries into claims that he sexually assaulted or acted inappropriately toward a number of women, which he denies. Cuomo’s treatment of Covid-19 deaths in New York nursing homes at the peak of the pandemic is still being investigated by federal authorities. Cuomo’s administration underreported the number of Covid deaths among New York’s long-term care patients, according to a state attorney general survey, and then avoided sharing potentially harmful details with state lawmakers.
Cuomo has rebuffed demands from top Democrats in New York to resign in recent weeks, and he may be impeached and removed from office.