HAUPPAUGE, NY — On a blazing Saturday afternoon in eastern Long Island, after hours of sun-drenched stump speeches by little-known candidates, it was finally Giuliani time.
As the sounds of Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” filled the air, the crowd of about 200 Republican voters swooned to the sound of an elaborate diatribe against government mandates, socialism, and the House Committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riots. examined.
Dozens of admirers crowd around, making videos or hoping to snap a selfie. After the speech was over, benefactors lined up for a chance at an autograph and a red hat bearing the last name of the man who appeared to be the featured attraction: Rudolph W. Giuliani.
Beside him was his son Andrew, the actual candidate in what is increasingly resembling a tandem campaign for governor of New York.
With just over two weeks left before the Republican primary on June 28, Andrew Giuliani’s unlikely campaign has remained visible and viable in no small part because of his famous surname and the continued fame and appearances of his father, formerly the mayor. from New York City and a personal attorney for former President Donald J. Trump.
The elderly Mr. Giuliani, 78, has campaigned regularly with his son since he took office last year, often as a warm-up and sidekick at the Israel Day Parade and at Memorial Day marches and press conferences outside the town hall.
His efforts were welcomed by the younger Mr. Giuliani, 36, who is running a small campaign, driving back and forth across the state in a collection of donated vans and trucks adorned with his face, hoping to help the party’s anointed candidate. to make an upset. Lee M. Zeldin of Long Island.
Regardless of who wins the nomination, it will be an uphill battle to reach the governor’s mansion for Republicans, who haven’t won statewide office for 20 years. Their likely Democratic opponent is Governor Kathy Hochul, who has more than $18 million in her campaign coffers, in a state where the number of registered Democrats outnumbers Republicans by more than two to one.
“I’m honored that he would take the time to help us cross the finish line,” Andrew Giuliani said of his father, after posing next to him for dozens of photos. “I feel very blessed.”
Political families, of course, are not uncommon in New York, where the former governor, Andrew M. Cuomo, was a son of another former governor, Mario M. Cuomo. Families such as the Addabbos, the Weprins, and the Diazes all spawned father-son pairs who became lawmakers.
It’s also not too surprising that Andrew Giuliani, who was famous on camera at his father’s first inauguration in 1994, leaned on him for support: He’s making his first run for public office and has a limited record to look back on. fall.
His most significant political experience is the four years he spent in the Trump White House, serving as Special Assistant to the President and working in the Office of Public Liaison—hardly a classic preparation for Albany.
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Mr. Zeldin, a four-term congressman, remains much better funded, with more than $3.1 million in campaign funds as of the end of last month; Mr Giuliani had about a tenth of that, according to statements about the unveiling of the campaign.
Two other candidates — Rob Astorino, the former Westchester County executive, and Harry Wilson, a business transformation expert — also have more to spend than Mr. Giuliani.
And while Mr. Giuliani has a direct relationship with Mr. Trump, getting his approval is far from assured. Mr. Zeldin is a staunch Trump supporter who voted to undo the results of the 2020 election in key swing states, an effort, ironically, which Rudolph Giuliani led.
A 2008 presidential candidate who was once hailed as America’s mayor, the elder Mr. Giuliani saw his law license revoked and his public personality tarnished, at least in some quarters, as a result of his work for Mr. Trump. Those activities, in the service of a false story about a stolen election, were given a breath of fresh air last week during a prime-time hearing by the House committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol.
In a recent interview on Newsmax, the right-wing network where he served as a political analyst, Andrew Giuliani said that while Mr. Trump was “a bit like an uncle to me,” he didn’t expect approval, and that he thought the former president ” probably intended to sit this one out.”
That doesn’t mean the Giulianis aren’t trying: Both showed up at a recent fundraiser hosted by Representative Elise Stefanik at Trump National Golf Club Westchester, where a roundtable and photo-op with the former president cost $25,000 a head. Mr. Astorino was there too, mingled in the back; Mr. Zeldin had a previous commitment.
In comments made at an outside reception, the former president praised the younger Mr Giuliani, but the compliments had nothing to do with his political future.
“He did talk about him, but it was all about golf,” said Gerard Kassar, the chairman of the New York Conservative Party, which has supported Mr Zeldin. “I don’t believe the president is getting involved in the race at all, like the Giuliani people want.”
There have been few definitive polls on the race, although Giuliani has called himself “the frontrunner” as a result of a single May online poll, something the Zeldin campaign has mocked, citing other polls showing Mr. Giuliani with higher unfavorable ratings than Mr Zeldin. (However, Mr. Giuliani has higher brand awareness, with better ratings than Mr. Zeldin.)
Katie Vincentz, a spokeswoman for the Zeldin campaign, said the congresswoman planned to “raise the score” on Primary Day to prove he could beat Ms Hochul.
“Lee Zeldin is going to win this race because New Yorkers need him to win this race and save our state,” she said.
Mr Giuliani and his supporters have labeled his action as an outsider campaign, arguing that his lack of experience in New York politics and policy is actually positive.
Its platform relies heavily on tackling crime, promising a $5 billion fund for police forces across the state, while also promising to cut the state budget. He is not averse to Trumpian nicknames and calls Ms. Hochul “Crime Wave Kathy”.
His father has used the same imagery as Mr. Trump on the campaign trail, calling Albany “a swamp” that “needs to be cleared,” echoing the former president’s own rhetoric about Washington in his 2016 campaign.
Curtis Sliwa, last year’s Republican nominee for mayor of New York City, has also fought for the campaign. He supported the elderly Mr. Giuliani’s first failed mayoral nomination in 1989, “when Andrew was just a toddler,” he said.
Today, he said, he supports Andrew for his focus on crime, something Republicans say is a winning issue this election cycle, particularly in New York, where opposition to bail reform has been a powerful problem for conservatives.
“It’s the talk of everyone I deal with,” said Mr Sliwa, the founder of the Guardian Angels, the citizen patrol group. “And it’s not just in the five boroughs; it’s statewide. They want to know what the next governor is going to do about the high crime rate.”
Mr. Giuliani turned down a request for an interview, but at several events on Long Island and in Albany and outside of Rochester, he was friendly and open to brief questions from a DailyExpertNews reporter. (The elder Mr. Giuliani did not return requests for comment.)
But he also told Newsmax last week that he felt “legacy outlets” had a liberal bias and claimed he reprimanded the Times reporter about it. (For the record, he hadn’t.)
“I said to him, ‘You remind me more of Pravda than a free press now, because you are so crooked,'” Giuliani said. “I don’t mind difficult questions, just make sure they’re honest on both sides of the aisle.”
As for how he could manage a state of 20 million people with no leadership experience, his father suggested that he learned – as many children do – through observation.
“He saw me do it,” said the elder Mr. Giuliani during his comments on Long Island, as he spoke of lowering the crime rate, adding, “He knows how to do it.”
Still, some New York Republicans say the younger Mr. Giuliani is going too far by starting his political career for the state’s highest office.
“If his name was Andrew Smith, of course he wouldn’t run for governor,” said John J. Faso, a former Hudson Valley congressman and the 2006 Republican nominee for governor, who called Mr. Giuliani’s candidacy an “afterthought.” mentioned.
Giuliani has impressed some with his natural political skills: he is comfortable and friendly on television and in front of crowds, with a broad smile and a more easygoing demeanor than his sometimes temperamental father.
But his campaign rhetoric has been molded in the form of Trump, emphasizing divisive culture war topics, opposing critical race theory and a “war on the police” and disregarding expressions such as “gender dysphoria.”
“I’m not a biologist,” said Mr. Giuliani during a campaign stop in Conesus, NY, south of Rochester. “But I do know the difference between a man and a woman.”
Mr. Giuliani is married and has a young daughter. He is an avid golfer who once sued after being left on the Duke University golf team.
He says he has had little time to hit the left since the campaign started, and told a potential voter, Keith Hilpl, that he hadn’t played much in the past year, although he had played a round with Mr. Trump.
Mr Hilpl had driven approximately 80 miles to see Mr Giuliani at the Conesus event after hearing him on Steve Bannon’s podcast and visiting his campaign website.
“I have always loved his father,” said Mr. Hilpl, a software programmer. “And I wanted to see if it was made of the same material.”
Sure enough, he seemed impressed and left the event wearing a campaign cap and lawn sign.
Back at the event in Hauppauge, a Suffolk County hamlet on the edge of Mr. Zeldin’s district, many in attendance expressed their unequivocal adoration for the elder Mr. Giuliani.
“He saved New York,” said Penny Cialone, 60, adding, “And I think Andrew could do exactly what his father did.”
The younger Mr. Giuliani joked with his father and jumped to his feet when he started talking.
“We have a tradition that I interrupt his speeches,” he said. “I haven’t grown up at all.”
At the same time, the candidate also seemed aware of his father’s star power, even when the former mayor handed him the microphone.
Andrew Giuliani said he was grateful his father was not running for governor.
“Because I’d be in a lot of trouble,” he said, “if he could.”
Nicholas Fandos reporting contributed.