With the excitement that only a Democrat with a 38% approval rating can bring, hundreds of Republicans from around New York State filed into the Garden City Hotel this week to officially nominate their chosen candidates for statewide office. Nassau County Joe Cairo welcomed the crowd with open arms, and with a clear voice and strong majority, the 62 counties that make up the state chose Congressman Lee Zeldin to take on Governor Kathy Hochul in 2022.
Zeldin, who was there with his family, readily and enthusiastically accepted the endorsement of the GOP. “We are going to win this race,” Zeldin said during his nomination speech, “because we have to win this race. This isn’t a regular campaign. This is a rescue mission. A rescue mission to save our state.”
Zeldin certainly has a wide lane to run on against the incumbent governor, who is launching her first campaign for the office. Democrats have ruled New York with an iron fist during COVID, and had total Party control of Albany since 2019. Hochul is attempting to ingratiate herself to the public by finally lifting the mask mandates on businesses and schoolchildren, but she is relying on the short-term memory of her voters. Zeldin, who refers to mask mandates in schools as “unscientific child abuse,” has a strong record of following the data regarding masking, and demanded the mandates be lifted far before Hochul did.
The number one issue on every New Yorkers mind, however, is crime. Democrats passed the disastrous bail reform law in 2019 (a law so bad that one of its architects, Todd Kaminsky, got demolished in a run for Nassau Attorney General and is not seeking reelection in the State Senate). While Hochul claims to not want to defund the police, she chose Brian Benjamin, a staunch advocate for defunding the police, as her Lieutenant Governor.
Zeldin takes the opposite approach. He says that his run “is about restoring New York to glory. It’s about backing the blue unapologetically.” Zeldin’s congressional run was endorsed by multiple police unions, and he has a strong record on supporting the police. “Let’s recognize the inherent right to self-defense for our men and women in blue,” he says. In contrast with Hochul, Zeldin chose 24-year NYPD veteran Alison Esposito as his running mate.
Esposito was the commanding officer of the 70th Precinct in Brooklyn until she accepted the nomination. A lifelong New Yorker, this campaign will be Esposito’s first official foray into politics. She followed in footsteps of her father, retired NYPD Chief Michael Esposito, when she joined the NYPD. In her near quarter of a century on the force, she’s worked all over the city: on patrol, SWAT, and even attended the FBI Academy in Quantico. When she was asked to run, she saw an opportunity. “I wasn’t able to effect the change that I needed to from [the Commanding Officer’s] seat,” she said. “During the last few years I watched as the NYPD have been vilified and turned into public enemy number one. It has to stop. It stops now.”
Esposito, who said that she “never thought [she’d] leave the job,” shares Zeldin’s belief that parents know best on what their children need. “Imagine that,” she quipped, “a parent deciding what’s best for their children.” Then her tone got far more serious. “We are seeing a curriculum that teaches children to not only hate each other, not only hate this country, but hate themselves.’
While Zeldin did take 85% of the vote, that doesn’t mean that his journey to be the GOP nominee is over. Far before the election in November, there is a primary vote with three other candidates. Businessman Harry Wilson, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, and political consultant Andrew Giuliani have all pledged to be on the ballot for the June primary election.
Zeldin is the top of a long ticket of Republicans looking to win statewide elections for the GOP. TV host Joe Pinion was nominated to run against Chuck Schumer for U.S. Senate. If elected, Pinion will be the first black Senator from New York. Michael Henry is taking on Letitia James for Attorney General, and Paul Rodriguez rounds out the ticket running for comptroller.
“This is one ticket. One team,” Zeldin said. “Taking nothing for granted…I’m not running to be an Emperor governor. I’m running so the people feel back in control of their government again. More local control, less Hochul control.”
Zeldin has the best shot that any Republican has had in a long time. Hochul never ran as a Governor before, and all signs indicate that people are fed up with Democrats.
“Losing this race is not an option,” Zeldin concluded, “for the first time in decades, we will have a Republican Governor once again.”
Moshe Hill is a political columnist and Senior Fellow at Amariah, an America First Zionist organization. Moshe has a weekly column in the Queens Jewish Link, and has been published in Daily Wire, CNS News, and other outlets. You can follow Moshe on his blog www.aHillwithaView.com, facebook.com/aHillwithaView, and twitter.com/HillWithView.