Despite his loss in the close New York gubernatorial race, Republican Lee Zeldin said he has “no regrets” over his campaign.
Zeldin may have not managed to finish ahead of the incumbent, Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul, but he did partially close the gap between the rival parties by accruing the most votes in the state by a Republican candidate in over half a century.
In his first interview since conceding the election to Hochul, Zeldin told the New York Post that his surprisingly competitive campaign was not in vain as it helped secure other critical races in the House and state Senate.
“We were running as one-team, one ticket,” Zeldin said. “I helped to bring out their voters, they helped to bring out my voters. That’s what happens when you are all working together on these campaigns.”
Zeldin was viewed as a long-shot candidate for the governorship but still managed to rake in more votes than the last Republican to win a gubernatorial election in New York, George Pataki who went on to serve three terms as governor.
The Long Island congressman celebrated the successes of his campaign and the Republican Party on Twitter saying they “flipped 4 NY Congressional seats, broke the supermajority in the State Senate, and received the most votes of any GOP candidate since Nelson Rockefeller. Team Zeldin put in max effort every day and has no regrets. It was such an honor to lead this year’s ticket.”
We flipped 4 NY Congressional seats, broke the supermajority in the State Senate, and received the most votes of any GOP candidate since Nelson Rockefeller. Team Zeldin put in max effort every day and has no regrets. It was such an honor to lead this year’s ticket. https://t.co/bpOTFBrh9F
— Lee Zeldin (@leezeldin) November 10, 2022
“I feel like the results showed how effective the campaign was reaching out beyond Republicans,” Zeldin said regarding the widespread support his campaign received, noting that in order to accrue such an impressive tally, a candidate must have connected with voters from both sides of the aisle.
“We’ll see what the final tally is. But the only way to come this close in the state like New York — one of the bluest states in the country — is to be able to connect with Democrats and independents as well. There’s no way that we would have been able to get this close to 50% without being able to successfully connect with so many people who have in the past voted Democrat,” Zeldin said.
Crucially, Zeldin’s campaign also managed to help end the supermajority held by Democrats in the state Senate, and Republicans, as of Wednesday, have won at least 10 critical House seats.
Zeldin, who ran a tough-on-crime campaign, insisted that the results are revealing what many voters in the state are hoping for.
“I strongly believe that the will of the New York voter is to do more to make our streets safer, to give judges discretion to weigh dangerousness, to amend Raise the Age, we have increasing assaults on correctional officers, other prison staff and inmates due to the Halt Act,” Zeldin said. “I believe that there’s a lot more to be able to secure our streets and our subways. New Yorkers don’t want to be told that this is just a perception or a conspiracy this is something that has impacted routines and behaviors and life decisions in a way that Albany needs to take extremely seriously.”
In Zeldin’s concession statement he remained optimistic about the GOP’s future in New York and advised lawmakers in Albany, the state’s capital city, to learn a lesson from this election.
Congratulations @KathyHochul on her election to a full term.
This once in a generation campaign was a very close margin in the bluest of states.
If not for the dedicated, hard work of grassroots volunteers & supporters this incredibly close race wouldn’t have been possible. pic.twitter.com/7latYSaka7
— Lee Zeldin (@leezeldin) November 9, 2022
“Those controlling Albany should take note. New Yorkers of all walks of life are sick of the attacks on their wallets, their safety, their freedoms and the quality of their kids’ education and are hitting their breaking point, as proven by these results. As they take office in January, Governor Kathy Hochul and those controlling Albany must address the grave concerns voiced by the voters. While this campaign has come to a close, the rescue mission to Save Our State continues,” the statement read after first congratulating Hochul on her victory.
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