Trump ally GOP Rep. Lee Zeldin announces plan to run for New York governor in 2022

Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin, a staunch supporter of former President Donald Trump, announced Thursday he plans to run for New York governor next year, saying that “to save our state,” embattled Democratic incumbent Andrew Cuomo “has got to go.”

New York is a heavily blue state, but Republicans are sensing an opening in 2022 with a potentially wounded candidate in Cuomo given several scandals surrounding him and his dipping favorability numbers 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, arguing that with one-party Democratic rule in New York City and Albany, “the light that was a beacon of what America can be has gone dark” and that Cuomo is at the “helm” of New York’s “downfall.”

Cuomo has not yet said whether he intends to seek a fourth term next year. He has led the state for a decade and New York hasn’t had a Republican governor since Gov. Georgia Pataki left office in 2006.

Zeldin is the second notable Republican who announced his plans to run for governor this week. Andrew Giuliani, the son of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani who served as an aide to Trump, told the Washington Examiner in an interview published Wednesday that he’s planning to seek the office.

Zeldin was a vocal defender of Trump during his presidency, including publicly defending him during his second impeachment trial this year. He also echoed Trump’s baseless claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 election and voted against certifying the 2020 election results in Arizona and Pennsylvania. Zeldin was first elected to Congress in 2014, after serving four years in the New York state Senate.

Cuomo last won reelection in 2018 by easily defeating his progressive challenger Cynthia Nixon, but now his political future is on shaky ground amid two scandals. He’s facing two independent investigations into allegations he sexually harassed or behaved inappropriately toward several women, allegations he has denied. Federal investigators are also examining Cuomo’s handling of Covid-19 deaths at New York’s nursing homes during the height of the pandemic. A state attorney general report found that Cuomo’s administration underreported the number of Covid deaths among New York’s long-term care patients and then delayed sharing potentially damaging information with state lawmakers.

In recent weeks, Cuomo has repeatedly rebuffed calls for his resignation by top Democrats in New York and could face impeachment and removal from office.

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