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Governor’s Primary

06/24/2022 11:42 AM | Anonymous

Governor’s Primary  by Tom Reynolds

Next Tuesday, June 28th, there will be a primary election in both the Republican and Democrat Parties for governor.  SCOPE does not endorse any candidates as our job is to inform you about them to help you make your decision.

Historically, voter participation in primaries is low, perhaps one-third as many people vote in the primary as will vote in the general election.  This sometimes allows a highly motivated group to show up in enough numbers to help a fringe candidate to win.  This is how Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez got elected.  (The message here is – get out and vote!)

For those that complain about the quality of their party’s candidates in the general election, the primary is an opportunity to have a say in who will be their party’s candidate.

On the Republican side, there are four candidates: Lee Zeldin, Rob Astorino, Harry Wilson and Andrew Giuliani. 

In their campaigns, they agreed on most (but not all) Republican / Conservative positions.  The issue is whether, as Governor, they will hedge and not follow through.  The Assembly will certainly stay in Democrat hands and the Senate will probably be Democrat, but perhaps neither will have the veto proof majority that currently exists. Do the candidates have the values to make good decisions and the strength, commitment and savvy to follow through and fight for those decisions?

All four are pro 2nd Amendment but a Democrat legislature is not going to repeal the anti-gun laws it has already passed.  But, the Governor has options: veto future anti-gun legislation and threaten to veto unrelated legislation to force the legislature to change the gun laws.  (The latter would take real political will-power and commitment.)  In addition, through executive actions, the Governor can rein in some of the anti-2A Albany swamp. SCOPE President Tom Reynolds had the opportunity to speak face-to-face with Zeldin about gun related issues, something he has not had the opportunity to do with other candidates.  Zeldin seems to understand the issues and is not just using talking points.  (This is not to say the other three do not understand the issues.)

On crime, all four would fire Soros’ funded Manhattan D.A. Alvin Bragg (and others) for refusing to enforce laws and they all would repeal or change the “Bail Reform Laws”.  They all condemn the “Defund the Police” movement.  Giuliani separates himself, a bit, on this by specifically endorsing his father, Rudy’s, successful but controversial anti-crime policies as Mayor of New York and indicating that he will use them.

All four would end Covid mandates.  Giuliani won some supporters in the first debate by not submitting proof of vaccination and having to participate by long distance.

All four spoke in favor of choice in schools which includes more charter schools.  They also believe in parents as the primary overseers and are against Critical Race Theory and other such leftist theories being taught in schools.

Zeldin, Astorino and Giuliani are pro-life while Wilson is pro-abortion.  Knowing his position is not a winner amongst Republicans, Wilson tries to downplay it as less important than other issues and differentiate his stance from the radical pro-abortion element.

Zeldin, Astorino and Giuliani both specifically supported removing the ban on Natural Gas as a way to get NY’s economy going.  Wilson says he wants to expand the energy supply.

All four believe the road forward needs to include various tax cuts, although they each have their own ideas about which ones.

For what it is worth, Zeldin and Giuliani are strong Trump supporters and Astorino is a supporter but, perhaps, less so than those two.  Wilson is not a Trump supporter.

Electability in the General election is an issue. 

  • ·      Zeldin has consistently won in a toss up Congressional District.  In 2010 he was elected to the New York Senate and in 2014 he was elected to Congress.
  • ·      Astorino won election to his Town Board in 1991 and County Legislature in 2003.  He ran for election as the Westchester County Executive and lost in 2005 but won it in 2009 and won again in 2013 and then lost in 2017.  (Westchester is a solidly Democrat county.)  Astorino lost in a 2014 statewide race for NY Governor.  (More on that later.) 
  • ·      Wilson narrowly lost in a 2010 bid for NY Comptroller (he got 46% of the statewide vote), his only run for office; this is the best showing by a Republican in a statewide race, since then.    
  • ·      Giuliani has not previously run for office.
  • ·      Astorino was a County Executive for eight years; he highlights that the Westchester budget was $1.8 billion when he entered office and still $1.8 billion, eight years later, when he left office.  Very importantly, he also successfully fought the Obama administration’s attempt to radically destroy suburban / rural life through the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing regulations.  (Note: the Biden administration is resurrecting this effort and if you don’t know about this you should!  This threatens the very core of suburban / rural living.)
  • ·      Wilson was a private investor and corporate restructuring expert who earned millions.  At 36, he left business to pursue charity work and politics.  Wilson highlights the lessons he learned as an executive in the private sector as key to turning around NY State.  (Note, Democrats disparaged Mitt Romney’s similar experience.)    
  • ·      Zeldin’s executive experience is as an officer in the Amy and now as a Lieutenant Colonel in the reserves.  He is the only candidate with military experience and serving in Iraq would certainly qualify as working in a high stress environment. 
  • ·      Giuliani has no executive experience but has his father as Mayor of NY City to model on.  

The Governor position is an executive position so executive experience is worth considering. 

The political party “establishment” is a factor. 

Both the Republican and Conservative Parties have endorsed Zeldin as their candidate.  This brought criticism down on the parties as being done too early before the “people” had a chance to speak in the primary.  This also made Zeldin the front runner and gave him an advantage but it also made him a target. 

It should be noted that the Republican Party endorsement was an effort to focus attention and fund raising on one person and, unsuccessfully, avoid intraparty conflict which gives the Democrats talking points.  Kathy Hochul has raised more than $35 million for her campaign while all 4 candidates, together, do not approach that figure. Hochul, as the incumbent governor, also has the ability to dole out state funding, as she did with $600 million for the Buffalo Bills new stadium. (Your tax dollars at work.)

In 2014, several candidates in the Republican Party made a deal with Andrew Cuomo.  If Cuomo did not work against them, these Republicans agreed not to actively support Republican governor candidate Astorino, which hurt Astorino’s campaign and fund raising.  Astorino also charged that Republican Governor’s Association Chairman Chris Christie did not support him in deference to fellow governor Cuomo.  (Christie claims it was a financial decision that, with limited funds, they only supported candidates with a strong chance of winning.)  The election turned out to be low turnout in both parties and the Republican Party blew its best chance to defeat Cuomo.   

Harry Wilson claims to be a lifelong Republican.  He worked in the Obama administration as a Special Advisor to the Treasury Department on the GM Bankruptcy and on the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation reform.  (In 2010, Wilson voiced the Democrat talking points when he told Tom Reynolds that he supported the Obama GM scheme because the credit market could not have handled a GM breakup.)  Wilson also contributed to Soros’ funded Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg.  (Wilson claims it was a token donation to a fellow college alum and he would never have done it if he knew Bragg’s positions.)  In an interesting twist, Wilson served on Rob Astorino’s 2009 transition team to Westchester County Executive.

Through Rudy, his father, Andrew Giuliani has been exposed to the inner workings of the Republicans at both the the state and federal level.  During Donald Trump’s presidency he served as associate director of the office of public liaison, then as special assistant to the president.

As the front runner, Zeldin has been the main target of the other three candidates and, therefore, often on the defensive.  All four should have been focusing, instead, on Kathy Hochul.  Some of this deserves further explanation. 

While in the NY Senate, Zeldin voted against Common Core and against the NY Dream Act.  Contrary to political ads, he did not vote for the SAFE Act, as he was on reserve duty (and he later said he would have voted against it).  Zeldin did later vote for NY State budgets that included funding for the SAFE Act; this was a common trait of many Republican Senators at that time, who had opportunities but not the will to roll back Cuomo’s agenda (using NY City Rent Control as leverage is just one example). He does claim to have voted against most Cuomo initiatives.     

In 2011, before newly elected Governor Cuomo had morphed into “Der Fuhrer”, Zeldin said that Cuomo would be a better president than Obama.  (That’s a very low bar to hop over and an interesting question as to who would have been worse!)  Put in context, he was not endorsing Cuomo for President, as has been charged, but being generous at a gathering where his Senate District was getting state money.

All candidates were asked if, should they lose the primary, would they endorse the primary winner.  Astorino, Giuliani and Harry Wilson all clearly answered yes.  Zeldin filibustered but in the middle he indicated he would support the primary winner.  But as an added complication, he is already designated the Conservative Party candidate and would have to resign that in order to not split the vote. The real issue is not the endorsement but not running as a third-party candidate.  But that was not the question.

The debates. 

The governor candidates have had three debates with the last one widely televised.  Candidates don’t seem to understand that they do themselves little good by trying to shout down the other candidates during the debates.  All three attacked Zeldin who actively engaged them, especially Wilson and to a point, Astorino.  The general impression is that Zeldin may have hurt himself by not handling these confrontations well.  Astorino came across as the most polished and changed some minds.      

For the Democrat governor candidate, the polls give Governor Kathy Hochul an overwhelming advantage over her two Democrat opponents: Jumaane Williams and Tom Suozzi. Since Hochul is considered the sure winner of the Democrat primary, we won’t spend time on it at this point.

A 2nd Amendment Defense Organization, defending the rights of New York State gun owners to keep and bear arms!

PO Box 165
East Aurora, NY 14052

SCOPE is a 501(c)4 non-profit organization.

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