2022 Election: NY GOP backs Lee Zeldin in primary for governor

In a sweeping victory, Rep. Lee Zeldin was endorsed by the New York State Republican Party in the race for governor, which means he will have the party's backing going into the primary. 

"We are battling for the heart and soul of our state, just like right now we are battling for the heart and soul of our country," Zeldin said to Republican delegates. "I'm not running to be an emperor governor. I'm running so that people can feel like they are back in control of their government again."

Zeldin secured over 85% of the weighted vote at the New York State Republican Convention, held this year at the Garden City Hotel on Long Island. 

But this doesn't mean the race is over just yet. 

Andrew Giuliani, who in the most recent Siena poll showed that he had strong name recognition, said he is starting the petition process in order to get on the ballot in June. 

"This is about getting the 2.9 million registered Republicans an opportunity to have a say over who their nominee is. We don't want this to just be a backroom deal in Albany," Giuliani said. "If the Republican Party is going to grow in New York, we need to make sure that as many people are participating in this process as possible."

The second person to secure a spot on his petitioning ballot was his father, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who crashed the state GOP convention unexpectedly. But the former mayor said his former boss, Donald Trump, will not be picking a side in the primary despite the family's close ties.

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"Who can do it? Who's got the guts to be governor? So far this guy's winning that battle," Rudy Giuliani said, pointing to Andrew at his side. "He's willing to do an open primary, equal terms for everybody."

Former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino did pick up a few votes at the convention, but did not meet the 25% threshold to appear on the ballot automatically. His speech focused on high taxes, bail reform, and Gov. Kathy Hochul.

"Kathy Hochul sat back and watched as Cuomo built the most corrupt pay-to-play administration in state history," Astorino said. "She knew he hid nursing home death numbers to get a lucrative book deal and remained silent. She knew about Cuomo's creepy side and remained silent."

Unlike his other main competitors, Harry Wilson tried to strike a more moderate tone. Wilson jumped into the race semi-late and only announced his candidacy a little over a week ago. 

"Let's end politics as usual," Wilson said to delegates. "Let's say no to your politicians and yes to outsiders who can bring real change to our state. Let's turn around New York."

Astorino, Giuliani, and Wilson all plan to petition their way onto the ballot, which is no easy feat. 

Democrats do outnumber Republicans by more than two to one in New York, so whoever wins the primary will have to find a way to sway Democratic voters if they want a shot in the general election.