Congressman Zeldin anointed 'presumptive nominee' by New York GOP in race for governor

New Yorkers don’t vote for governor until next year, but already the state Republican Party has proclaimed a presumptive nominee.

Updated: June 29, 2021 - 11:28pm

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New Yorkers won’t vote for governor until next year, but already the state Republican Party has proclaimed a presumptive nominee.

County party chairs met in Albany to conduct a straw poll Monday, and U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin garnered 85 percent of the vote that was weighted by county.

State GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy wasted little time in throwing his support behind the Long Island congressman. That included sending out a fundraising email on Monday evening.

The chairman told Spectrum News that Zeldin has crisscrossed the state, visiting all 62 counties in recent weeks. And moving forward, Langworthy said he’ll make joint appearances with him.

“There's a reason we started this process early,” Langworthy said. “We have coalesced, and you know, my hope is that we can avoid a primary still.”

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has stated he plans to run for a fourth term next year, despite facing calls for his resignation in recent months thanks to numerous controversies and scandals.

Even with allegations of sexual harassment, mishandling nursing home policy during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and potentially withholding information about COVID-19 deaths tied to nursing homes for months, a Siena College poll from a month ago showed that 49% believe the governor should not resign. That’s down from 51% in April.

However, only 37% said they would vote to reelect the governor, if things stay as they are. A majority, 53% would prefer another candidate.

That may fuel the GOP’s desire to get behind a single candidate now. In the same poll, 62% of respondents said they had no opinion of Zeldin.

The Shirley congressman, who has been targeting Cuomo in his campaign, kept that focus in a statement after the straw poll.

He added the poll showed the party is “united” to defeat Cuomo.

“Since announcing our candidacy for governor, together we’ve built a groundswell of support inside and outside of politics from every corner of our state,” Zeldin said. “For so many New Yorkers, this is a last chance to save our state, to return New York from the brink and restore it to glory.”

The only other candidate to receive support was former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, who got 5 percent of the vote.

In a tweet after the poll, Astorino called the “early” straw poll “meaningless” and gave no indication that he would step aside.

“The voters, not the party insiders will decide who the GOP candidate is in next June’s primary,” Astorino said.

Declared candidates Andrew Giuliani, Mike Carpinelli and Derrick Gibson did not receive a vote as 10% abstained.

Giuliani, who worked for President Donald Trump and is the son of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, has touted a poll in recent days saying he’s the leading candidate.

“Proud to be the FAVORITE of The 2.9 Million Registered New York Republicans!!!” the younger Giuliani tweeted Tuesday. “We are the Peoples Candidate!!!!!!”

Langworthy told Spectrum News that he felt Giuliani’s poll had little credibility in that it came out so close to the poll and excluded Astorino.