New York Rep. Lee Zeldin announced Thursday he’s running for governor in 2022, a race that has heated up dramatically since Gov. Cuomo became engulfed in multiple scandals.
The outspoken pro-Trump conservative, who represents New York’s 1st congressional district, says he’s the man to end Cuomo’s three-term reign in Albany and end Democratic control over state government.
“I’ll bring the kind of relentless, fighting spirit towards helping to save our state that Cuomo reserves for multi-million dollar self-congratulatory book deals, cover-ups, abuse & self-dealing,” Zeldin wrote in an early morning tweet.
Republicans and Democrats alike smell a political opening in Albany since numerous scandals hit the once-impenetrable governor, including damaging accusations of sexual misconduct and covering up the true toll of the COVID-19 pandemic in nursing homes.
Cuomo has not yet said if he will run for a fourth term in 2022.
“Cuomo has abused the power & trust granted to him & it’s time for him to immediately exit stage left,” Zeldin wrote. “I’m ready to go all in on this mission and bring New York back from the brink and return it to glory.”
The four-term lawmaker has proven an effective campaigner in his Suffolk County swing district that encompasses mostly suburbs and the wealthy Hamptons, along with rural areas that strongly backed former President Trump.
But Zeldin is little known outside Long Island and holds very conservative positions that would likely be problematic in a statewide race in deep-blue New York.
He has emerged as a vocal defender of former President Donald Trump, whose unpopularity in New York has only grown since the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol.
Zeldin enthusiastically backed Trump’s effort to overturn the election results in some states and voted with Trump’s allies to reject the results from two states that President Joe Biden won.
Zeldin also faces an uncertain political future in the House of Representatives. Democrats will control the upcoming, once-a-decade redistricting process, in which New York could lose up to two House seats, according to some census estimates.
Democrats could seek to tweak the district lines on Long Island for a better chance at ousting either Zeldin or Rep. Andrew Garbarino (R-N.Y.), who won a competitive race to succeed longtime GOP Rep. Peter King in the neighboring 2nd congressional district.