Rep. Lee Zeldin at a meeting in Calverton in March 2019. File photo: Denise Civiletti

Rep. Lee Zeldin has officially launched his campaign for governor of the State of New York.

Zeldin made the announcement in a video posted on a new campaign website.

Zeldin came out swinging against incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has been battered by controversy in recent months. The First District congressman has been a vocal and persistent critic of the governor, and previously acknowledged he was exploring a run for the statehouse.

“I will bring the kind of relentless, fighting spirit towards helping to save our state that Andrew Cuomo only reserves for multi-million dollar self-congratulatory book deals, cover-ups, abuse and self-dealing,” Zeldin said in a press release announcing his candidacy.

“With one-party Democrat rule in NYC and Albany, the light that once shone as a beacon of what America can be has gone dark,” Zeldin said. “The New York that was once a magnet for the world’s best and brightest is now forcing its own to leave under the crushing weight of skyrocketing taxes, lost jobs, suffocating regulations, and rising crime resulting from dangerously liberal policies,” he said.

Zeldin said Cuomo has been “at the helm of New York’s downfall.”

The controversy surrounding Cuomo’s management of nursing homes during the COVID crisis and the lack of transparency of his administration’s handling data pertaining to COVID infections and deaths among long-term care residents are just the latest in a “long line of scandals, lies, and harassment.” Zeldin said Cuomo, who has held the office for a decade has “abused the power and trust granted to him.”

Cuomo is currently the subject of an impeachment investigation in the New York State Assembly over his handling of the COVID crisis in nursing homes and allegations of sexual harassment made by seven woman in the past couple of months.

Zeldin was elected to his fourth term representing the eastern Suffolk congressional district in 2020. If he wins the Republican nomination for governor in the 2022 election, Zeldin will not be able to seek a fifth term.

“I am ready to go all in on this mission and bring New York back from the brink and return it to glory,” Zeldin said. “For many, this feels like a last stand to save our state. Losing is not an option.”

Zeldin, of Shirley, served two terms in the New York State Senate before his upset victory over incumbent Democrat Tim Bishop in 2014.

The chairpersons of both the Suffolk County and Nassau County Republican committees announced their endorsement of Zeldin.

“The State of New York is at a crossroads,” Suffolk County GOP chairperson Jesse Garcia said. “While our cost-of-living skyrockets, jobs flee the state, public safety deteriorates, and with our kids still not fully back in school, New Yorkers have been also forced to live through scandal after scandal brought on by a Governor who has lied, harassed, and bullied his way through office,” he said.

There are a number of potential GOP contenders in the governor’s race next year, including Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY21) of upstate Schuylerville, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino and Andrew Giuliani, son of the former NYC mayor and a former aide to President Donald Trump.

Cuomo has not yet announced whether he will seek a fourth term as governor.

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.