Pence endorses Rep. Lee Zeldin in New York GOP gubernatorial primary

The former VP announced his endorsement Wednesday at an event in Manhattan
Congressman Lee Zeldin is joined by elected officials as they demand the demand a repeal of the cashless bail law on Nov. 10, 2021 in Central Islip, New York.

June 23, 2022 9:18am

Updated: June 23, 2022 10:25am

Former Vice President Mike Pence has endorsed New York GOP Rep. Lee Zeldin in the state's Republican gubernatorial primary.

"Proud to endorse @leezeldin for Governor of New York at the @cpnys  today! He’s a Lt Col in the Army Reserve, proud supporter of our police officers, advocate for parents’ rights in education & a fiscal Conservative who will fight for lower taxes, less regulation & more freedom!" tweeted Pence on Wednesday evening.

Pence formally announced his endorsement earlier on Wednesday at an event in Manhattan. He also held a fundraiser for Zeldin earlier in the year. 

Incumbent Gov. Kathy Hochul is leading the Democrat primary field, according to a recent SurveyUSA poll.

Zeldin is leading the pack of GOP hopefuls ahead the state's primaries Tuesday.

Others in the field include Andrew Giuliani, a former White House staffer and son of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani; businessman Harry Wilson; and former Westchester Executive Rob Astorino.

The SurveyUSA poll shows Zeldin and Giuliani in the lead and almost in a dead heat.

Zeldin also has been endorsed by the state's Republican and Conservative parties, in addition to having the backing of several fellow GOP House members.

As the race enters its final days, Zeldin's opponents are hurling criticism at his record in Congress and as a state senator, as well as Pence's decision to endorse him. 

"Does VP Pence know that Lee Zeldin once touted Andrew Cuomo for president and while in the state senate was a reliable vote for Cuomo?  Either way, it will have no effect on the race," Astorino told the New York Post on Wednesday.

During the final debate between the candidates, which took place on Tuesday night and was broadcast on Newsmax, host Eric Boiling asked the men to describe themselves "politically, on a scale from, Pence to Trump."

Zeldin said it was important to "be my own man," while Giuliani said he was more closely aligned with Trump and his own father. Astorino cited former defenses of Trump he had issued, and Wilson said he was committed to remaining a small government conservative.

For all the bluster about his name, former President Trump has not yet weighed in on the forthcoming New York race.