Gunning for Cuomo, Lee Zeldin rakes in big bucks on Day One

Rep. Lee Zeldin announces run for New York governor

Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., exclusively tells ‘Fox and Friends’ he’s entering the gubernatorial race.

The morning after Rep. Lee Zeldin of New York launched a Republican challenge against Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the Empire State’s embattled three-term Democratic governor, the congressman’s campaign touted he had raised more than $1 million during his first day as a candidate.

“I’ve heard from New Yorkers from all walks of life that they feel like this is a last stand to save our state, and they’re all in on this campaign,” Zeldin wrote in a statement released Friday. “This unprecedented energy out of the gate makes it clear New Yorkers believe Cuomo’s Gotta Go, and they’re doubling down on the leadership necessary to bring New York back from the brink and return it to glory.”

ZELDIN LAUNCHES 2022 BID FOR NY GOV. AMID CUOMO CONTROVERSIES

Zeldin on Thursday became the first major Republican to launch a challenge against Cuomo, who faces allegations of sexual harassment from several female accusers, which has triggered an independent investigation by the state attorney general and an impeachment investigation in the New York Assembly. Cuomo is also facing a federal probe into the state’s handling of COVID-19 deaths at nursing homes amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Zeldin, a staunch ally of former President Trump and a four-term lawmaker who represents the state’s 1st Congressional District in the eastern half of Long Island, made his announcement in a live interview on “Fox and Friends,” saying, “I’m all in, we are all in.”

Zeldin’s announcement came a day after Andrew Giuliani, the son of former New York City mayor and ex-Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, told Fox News that he’s “strongly considering” running for governor.

Andrew Giuliani, special assistant to former President Trump and son of Rudy Giuliani, outside the West Wing of the White House in Washington, D.C., Jan. 15, 2021. 
(REUTERS/Erin Scott)

Giuliani – who served in the Trump administration as a special assistant to the president and as an associate director in the Office of Public Liaison at the White House – said that he’s been fielding calls from donors in recent days and weeks, and is “trying to decide whether or not it is the right thing to do.”

Hours after Zeldin’s campaign announcement, Fox News learned that Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, a rising star in the GOP who represents a district in the northern tier of the state, is receiving “encouragement” from supporters as she considers whether to mount a gubernatorial bid, with advisers saying she is “not ruling anything out.” 

In this screenshot from the RNC’s livestream of the 2020 Republican National Convention, U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) addresses the virtual convention on Aug. 26, 2020. 
(Courtesy of Committee on Arrangements for the 2020 Republican National Committee via Getty Images)

Last June, Sheriff Mike Carpinelli of Lewis County, in northern New York, announced a Republican gubernatorial challenge against Cuomo.

New York doesn’t have gubernatorial limits, and Cuomo announced in May of 2019 that he would run in 2022 for a fourth term steering the state. He had a massive $16.8 million cash on hand in his campaign coffers at the beginning of this year.

CUOMO’S POLL NUMBERS KEEP DROPPING AMID DUAL SCANDALS

While New York is a reliably blue state – Cuomo won reelection to a third term in 2018 by a massive 23-point margin – the governor has politically been severely wounded by the two scandals. Cuomo, who last year initially won national praise from Democrats and the media for his efforts battling the pandemic, is now facing possible impeachment as well as a growing chorus of calls from Republicans as well as Democrats to resign.

More than 135 state lawmakers and nearly the entire congressional delegation from New York – including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand – have urged Cuomo to step down.

Cuomo is resisting those calls as he continues to emphasize that people should wait until the results of the attorney general’s investigation before making up their minds and passing judgment. While he has apologized for making some women uncomfortable, he’s denied that he ever inappropriately touched a woman.

“Women have a right to come forward and be heard and I encourage that fully. But I also want to be clear, there is still a question of the truth, I did not do what has been alleged. Period,” he said in a news conference a month ago.

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“There are often many motivations for making an allegation and that is why you need to know the facts before you make a decision,” he added, saying those who are calling for him to resign are being “reckless and dangerous.”

The governor and his office have also pushed back on the nursing home deaths cover-up allegations, denying that nursing home fatality data was altered.

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