WATERTOWN — GOP Congressman Lee M. Zeldin has officially announced his candidacy for New York governor.
In a series of tweets Thursday morning, the conservative representative from New York’s 1st Congressional District announced he’s running to “save” the state from incumbent Democratic Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.
Rep. Zeldin, R-Shirley, is entering the race relatively early and is among the first state Republicans to officially announce his candidacy. Rep. Elise M. Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, has said she’s open to running for New York governor as well, although she hasn’t taken any formal steps to pull together a campaign.
In a statement Thursday afternoon, the congresswoman’s senior adviser, Alex deGrasse, said Mr. Zeldin’s announcement has changed nothing for Rep. Stefanik. He said she would “immediately be the strongest Republican candidate” for both a primary and general election.
Rep. Stefanik and Mr. deGrasse have both said the congresswoman is receiving constant encouragement to run for governor from supporters across the state and country.
“She appreciates the widespread encouragement and is not ruling anything out — nor will she make her decision based on others’ timetables,” he said. “Congresswoman Stefanik believes it is a testament to the strength of the Republican Party in New York that there are many other high quality candidates running or considering running.”
Rep. Stefanik and Rep. Zeldin are political allies, part of the Republican minority in New York state’s congressional delegation. During the Capitol riots on Jan. 6, the two members of Congress escaped the Capitol building together as rioters broke into the congressional chambers.
The two also served together as honorary co-chairs of former President Donald J. Trump’s New York campaign committee during his second run for office in 2020.
Rep. Zeldin said that New York state was once a beacon of hope and progress, but it no longer is due to what he described as high taxes, overbearing regulations on businesses and high crime rates.
“At the helm of NY’s downfall is Andrew Cuomo, whose deadly nursing home order and cover-up is part of a long line of scandals, lies and harassment,” Rep. Zeldin said in a tweet Thursday.
Rep. Zeldin is no stranger to state politics. The Army veteran served two terms in the New York state Senate, from 2010 to 2014, before he won election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2015.
There are a few other Republicans who have said the are considering or outright planning a run for governor of New York, including Lewis County Sheriff Michael P. Carpinelli, who announced his candidacy nearly a year ago in July 2020, as well as Andrew H. Giuliani, son of Rudy Giuliani, former New York City mayor and personal lawyer to Mr. Trump.