Rep. Lee Zeldin on State of Governor's Race in New York: Democrats in New York Facing 'Identity Crisis'

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Posted: Aug 14, 2021 8:00 AM
Rep. Lee Zeldin on State of Governor's Race in New York: Democrats in New York Facing 'Identity Crisis'

Source: Stefani Reynolds/Pool via AP

One or two things may have changed for the 2022 gubernatorial race in New York, now that Gov. Andrew Cuomo resigned this week, which is to be effective two weeks from Tuesday's announcement. Yet as Rep. Lee Zeldin, who is running for governor as a Republican, tells Townhall, the important issues remain the same. He's also not worried about any potential Democratic challenger.

Rep. Zeldin spoke specifically of how the issues didn't change when it comes to an individual's and the state's "breaking point." The issues, he said, likewise "didn't change because of the governor's announcement this week," which include concerns about rising crime, wanting to support the police, and getting rid of cashless bail. 

Zeldin's campaign for governor has targeted Cuomo by name, as a potential 2022 opponent, but the congressman affirmed his campaign was "very cognizant out of the gate" that the current governor might not make it until Election Day 2022. However the governor was going to be leave public office, Zeldin highlighted that his campaign talked about how "one way or the other this was the end of the road" for Cuomo. 

Yancey Roy in his piece for Newsday pointed some insight from analysts on the race when it comes to Republican chances:

On other side, Republicans’ strategy will have to adapt. The departure of Cuomo takes away perhaps the GOP’s best campaign ammunition, analysts said. But the upheaval, combined with factors such as crime gives them new political angles.

While others says Republican chances are "dim," even Democratic political strategist Hank Sheinkopf sees a path for the GOP:

Sheinkopf said Republicans could use a "chaos" theme against Democrats up and down the ballot.

"Unless the Democrats move quickly to undo the chaos" caused by Cuomo’s departure, Sheinkopf said, "the Republicans will have an opportunity."

"The Dems have to move quickly to calm things down," he said, or they risk losing seats in the State Senate and Congress.

Zeldin acknowledged Democrats "will likely have a crowded primary field" and suggested it will be "highly contested," while providing "no great option." He also told Townhall that the Democrats "don't have any option that we're worried about."

Not only is Rep. Zeldin clearly confident about his campaign and what their message and areas of focus are, but he pointed to identity issues the Democrats are facing. 

"We are seeing a Democratic field, and a Democratic Party that is very much uncertain about its identity and future and while our campaign is busy battling for the heart and soul of our state and country, the Democratic Party in New York State in many respects, is going to be going through an identity crisis of trying to figure out the heart and soul of their own party."

There has been much speculation from many different state news outlets. In addition to the several other names he's thrown out there in a piece for The New York Daily News, Michael Gartland suggested that "although it’s probably a long shot," Cuomo himself might still run for a fourth term.

The disgraced governor is adamant he would have survived impeachment. Carl Heastie, the speaker of the New York State Assembly, says they have put impeachment on hold. Had Cuomo been impeached and found convicted, he would be barred from running for state office again.

As was highlighted on Friday, fellow New York Democrats have weighed in to wonder aloud why it is that Cuomo's resignation isn't effective until two weeks after he made his announcement, stressing it should not take so long.

Zeldin was firm that Cuomo "should have resigned immediately," as he also brought up other scandals and investigations facing him. "There's a lot of ongoing, continued concern about the need for accountability, transparency, and justice as it relates to scandal after scandal, investigations ongoing by different levels of government." Reminding Townhall that he thinks Cuomo "should have resigned several months ago," Zeldin said "it can't happen fast enough."