By MARINA VILLENEUVE – Associated Press
ALBANY, NY (AP) — Four Republican candidates for governor of New York have pledged to undo years of one-party rule and focus on fighting crime and improving the economy if they were elected in a televised debate on Monday evening.
It’s an uphill battle for Republicans vying for governor’s office in New York, where registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by more than 2 to 1. The state’s last Republican governor was George Pataki, who served from 1995 to 2006.
The field includes U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin, former Westchester County executive Rob Astorino and businessman Harry Wilson. Candidate Andrew Giuliani, the son of the former mayor of New York, is expected to appear remotely.
Giuliani, a former adviser to former President Donald Trump, said he was barred from participating in Monday’s primary debate in person because he refused to provide proof that he had been vaccinated against COVID-19. 19. He said he told debate organizers he would take several tests before and on the day of the debate.
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Giuliani said if elected he would restore the jobs of public servants fired for not being vaccinated. He pledged on Monday to hold police accountable and called for a return to blanket stop and search policies in New York City.
In 2013, a judge ruled that New York police violated the constitution by mass arresting, questioning and searching mostly black and Hispanic people on the streets.
Astorino, a former Republican radio industry professional and two-term Westchester County executive, is running for governor for the second time. He promised to release an agenda to deal with New York’s steep job loss resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic on top of government corruption and the state’s high taxes and cost of living.
Astorino said Trump “bears some responsibility” for the Jan. 6, 2021, uprising, but said it was time for the country to move on.
Zeldin, a Trump ally and military veteran who has represented New York’s 1st congressional district since 2015, accused Democrats of being soft on criminals and overzealous in imposing security protocols meant to combat COVID-19.
Zeldin touted his support of the National Rifle Association and said he wanted to repeal a 2013 gun control law that expanded the definition of assault weapons and in part required universal background checks.
When asked if New York should ban guns in specific public places in the event the Supreme Court strikes down the state’s concealed carry restrictions, Zeldin said, “Gun-free zones don’t work. They actually become a target.
Johnstown businessman Harry Wilson entered the race this spring by launching a $12 million television advertising campaign.
He worked for Goldman Sachs and founded a consulting firm in White Plains, and also served as an adviser to the US Treasury Department under former President Obama.
Wilson has been criticized for his Democratic ties, with Zeldin calling him “never Trumper”. But Wilson said Zeldin asked him to run for running mate and pledged to use his private sector experience to end corruption in Albany.
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