EXCLUSIVE: Rep. Elise Stefanik is receiving “encouragement” from supporters across the state as she considers whether to mount a gubernatorial bid in New York in 2022, with advisers saying she is “not ruling anything out,” Fox News has learned.
Stefanik, whose congressional district represents Watertown, Plattsburgh and Glenn Falls, is getting support “from all corners of the state” according to her senior adviser Alex DeGrasse. The strong response comes added DeGrasse because Stefanik “would immediately be the strongest Republican candidate in both a primary and general gubernatorial election.”
The four-term congresswoman “continues to set records as the most prolific New York Republican fundraiser ever in state history consistently earning the strongest performance at the ballot box cycle after cycle on Election Day,” DeGrasse added, “She appreciates the widespread encouragement and is not ruling anything out – nor will she make her decision based on others’ timetables.”
The comments come after Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., formally announced he will run for governor in 2022 against Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
DeGrasse said that Stefanik “believes it is a testament to the strength of the Republican Party in New York that there are many other high quality candidates running or considering running.”
Zeldin is the first major Republican to launch a challenge against New York’s embattled three-term Democratic governor, who faces allegations of sexual harassment from 10 female accusers. The charges have triggered an independent investigation by the state attorney general and an impeachment investigation in the State Assembly. Cuomo is also facing a federal probe into the state’s handling of COVID deaths at nursing homes amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Zeldin, a staunch ally of former President Trump and a four-term lawmaker who represents the state’s 1st Congressional District in the eastern half of Long Island, made his announcement in a live interview on “Fox and Friends.”
“I’m running for governor of New York in 2022,” Zeldin said on “Fox & Friends.” “We are going to win this race.”
He added: “I’m all in, we are all in.”
Fox News reported earlier this week that Trump allies were quietly rallying their support behind Zeldin, urging him to mount a gubernatorial bid.
Zeldin met with former President Trump at Mar-a-Lago last month.
Zeldin’s formal announcement Thursday came a day after Andrew Giuliani, the son of former New York City mayor and ex-Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, told Fox News that he’s “strongly considering” running for governor.
Giuliani – who served in the Trump administration as a special assistant to the president and as an associate director in the Office of Public Liaison at the White House — said that he’s been fielding calls from donors in recent days and weeks, and is “trying to decide whether or not it is the right thing to do.”
Giuliani, after Zeldin formally announced on Thursday, told Fox News that he is “sticking with his timeline,” and would make a decision after April 19, when New York county party chairs would be invited to Albany by New York State Republican Committee Chairman Nick Langworthy, as well as “potential candidates” to give their “pitches.”
“I’ll make a decision at that point,” Giuliani said. “I am strongly considering it.”
New York doesn’t have gubernatorial limits, and Cuomo announced in May of 2019 that he would run in 2022 for a fourth term steering the state.
While New York is a reliably blue state where Cuomo won reelection to a third term in 2018 by a massive 23-point margin, the governor has been severely wounded politically by dual scandals. Cuomo, who last year initially won national praise from Democrats and the media for his efforts battling the pandemic, is now facing possible impeachment as well as a growing chorus of calls from Republicans as well as Democrats to resign.
More than 135 state lawmakers and nearly the entire congressional delegation from New York – including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand – have urged Cuomo to step down.
Cuomo is resisting those calls to resign as he continues to emphasize that people should wait until the results of the attorney general’s investigation before making up their minds and passing judgment. While he has apologized for making some women uncomfortable, he’s denied that he ever inappropriately touched a woman.
The governor and his office have also pushed back on the nursing home deaths cover-up allegations, denying that nursing home fatality data was altered.
Fox News’ Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.