The four Republicans vying for their party’s nomination for governor agreed on most issues during the Spectrum News debate Monday — all were anti-mandate and anti-Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg — but they were insistent on attacking each other where they could.
“You asked your question, now what happens is I get to answer the question, Andrew. That’s how this works,” Long Island Rep. Lee Zeldin told former Trump administration official Andrew Giuliani as the son of former Mayor Rudy Giuliani goaded him. “I know you feel like you’re entitled to become governor of New York.”
Zeldin, the state GOP’s preferred candidate, was the favored target of his three opponents. Giuliani brought up Zeldin’s remarks in 2016 when he labeled then-candidate Donald Trump’s comments racist. Businessman Harry Wilson asked why Zeldin worked with Cuomo while serving in the state Senate.
What You Need To Know
- There was little daylight among the contenders on most issues, including COVID-19 mandates
- They went after each other's records, sparking heated exchanges
- Zeldin, the state GOP's designee, was targeted by rivals questioning his loyalty to Trump and conservative bonafides
“What I said in 2011 was I made a comparison of Cuomo to Obama saying that Cuomo was doing a better job at the time,” Zeldin said in defense. “What I did do in 2010, 2014 and 2018 — including Rob Astorino — I endorsed the opponent to Andrew Cuomo.”
Astorino is the former Westchester County executive and 2014 GOP nominee for governor.
“You just lied to the voters,” Zeldin told Wilson, the GOP nominee for comptroller in 2010, about ads Wilson is running accusing the congressman of voting against funding for the NYPD.
In March, Zeldin voted against the federal spending bill, which included $2.9 million in funding for the NYPD.
Wilson countered: “No, that’s 100% accurate.”
All the candidates said they believe COVID-19 vaccines should not be added to the list of inoculations already required by students. Giuliani was participating remotely because he is not vaccinated. NY1 required all candidates coming into the studio to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The four also agreed all COVID-related mandates must end. And all called for the rollback of bail reform legislation and the firing of Bragg.
When the candidates were asked if they believe the 2020 election was stolen from Trump, Zeldin and Astorino talked around it.
“Listen, it’s something that we’ll never for sure know the exact consequence of,” Zeldin said.
“I’ll tell you what was stolen from us,” Astorino said. “What was stolen from us was our belief in the election system.”
Giuliani and Wilson answered directly.
“I believe that Donald Trump on was November 3, 2020, was re-elected,” Giuliani said, repeating the Big Lie adopted by many Republicans across the country.
Wilson was the only candidate to say definitevly that Trump lost.
“I believe Joe Biden was the duly elected president of the United States,” Wilson said. “I believe that we Republicans need to move on and focus on addressing problems that really hurt working families today.”
Primary Day is June 28. Early voting runs through June 26.