Andrew Cuomo’s despicable rule in New York has never been seriously challenged. He won re-election to a third term by 23 points in 2018 — an election in which he arguably didn’t even try.
But, for the first time in his tenure at the helm of the Empire State, Cuomo appears to be facing a serious opponent — one that was, at least in part, of Cuomo’s own making.
After more than a half-dozen allegations of sexual misconduct, as well as accusations that his use (and subsequent cover-up) of nursing homes to house infectious COVID-19 patients last spring caused thousands of additional deaths, Cuomo is unusually vulnerable.
And Rep. Lee Zeldin, a Republican who represents New York’s 1st congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives, smells blood in the water.
As Fox News reported last week, Zeldin is running for governor of New York in next year’s election, when Cuomo could be running for a fourth term.
🚨🚨🚨BREAKING: I'm running for Governor of NY in 2022. To save NY, #CuomosGottaGo!
I'll bring the kind of relentless, fighting spirit towards helping to save our state that Cuomo reserves for multi-million dollar self-congratulatory book deals, cover-ups, abuse & self-dealing.
— Lee Zeldin (@leezeldin) April 8, 2021
The progressive mob was quick to cast doubt on the congressman’s chances and throw a slew of insults Zeldin’s way:
Amazing! Yet another opportunity to vote for your opponent. Won’t forgive or forget your blind obedience to Trumpism nor your embrace of Bannon.
— Harry’s Baked (@HarryR) April 8, 2021
Cover ups? Zeldin was all for Trump covering up Coronavirus. Remember when Trump attacked NY hospitals and rather than send us more PPP accused us of stealing and selling it.
— Justme Anybody (@JustmeAnybody) April 8, 2021
Lol, New York despises you and everything you stand for, this is gonna be a hilarious embarrassment for your family and devastating personal failure for you. Enjoy being more reviled and laughed at than you already are 😂
— Stefanie Iris Weiss 🌻 (@EcoSexuality) April 8, 2021
But, one of the most important political lessons of 2020 was that Twitter is in no way representative of reality. Fox News reported that on his very first day of campaigning, Zeldin raised over $1 million. Clearly, reality is once again diverging from Twitter.
Zeldin is a committed public servant rather than a political lifer who says what he needs to to get elected. He once remarked that “I know if that I’m not fighting for my home state, my home district, that other members who are out there fighting for their state, their district, they’re not going to fight for New York for me.”
He’s proven that on the House floor, where he first gained notoriety. When Democratic leadership tried to shove Rep. Ilhan Omar‘s anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli remarks under the rug, Zeldin gave a passionate speech explaining to the world exactly what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was trying to hide.
“[Omar] in January had to apologize for talking about a hypnosis of Israel that they have over the entire world. [Omar] had to apologize in February by saying if you support Israel it must be because you’re bought off by Jews,” Zeldin said.
“[Omar] called it an unequivocal apology even though she filled it with equivocation and now we’re back again this time by saying that if you support the U.S.-Israel relationship that you must have pledged allegiance to a foreign government.”
As qualified and viable a candidate as Zeldin is, unseating Andrew Cuomo — or defeating any Democrat in deep-blue New York — will be a tall task. The New Republic once referred to New York state as “the most politically toxic place in America.” And as someone who once lived there, I think that moniker is justified.
Cuomo is still, scandals and all, the most powerful political figure in a state with such low standards that voters in its largest city re-elected Bill de Blasio by nearly 40 points in 2017 is limited.
But I have hope that, if Cuomo does run for re-election next year, Zeldin can end the Democrat’s political career for good. Cuomo deserves nothing less, and so much more.