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Gubernatorial candidates visit area

Fulton County Republican Chairwoman Susan McNeil addresses a gubernatorial forum Wednesday night at The Perthshire. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

PERTH — Embattled Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, state laws like the SAFE Act and Bail Reform and liberalism in general, were easy targets as four Republican New York state gubernatorial hopefuls imparted their messages to local GOP leaders Wednesday at The Perthshire.

The private forum to get to know the candidates up close was sponsored by the Fulton County Republican Chairmen’s Club.

The election to try to unseat Cuomo isn’t until 2022, but present were four gubernatorial candidates: U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin, Rob Astorino, Andrew Giuliani and Derrick Gibson. At a New York State GOP Chairman’s meeting in April, it was decided that each Republican region would invite the gubernatorial candidates to have the opportunity to present to county committees.

“We have three counties represented here,” noted Fulton County Republican Committee Chairwoman Susan McNeil.

The 35-year-old Giuliani – son of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani – served as a special assistant to the president and associate director of the Office of Public Liaison during the Trump Administration.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Andrew Giuliani and Fulton County Republican Committee Chairwoman Susan McNeil confer prior to a GOP political forum Wednesday at The Perthshire. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

“I worked four years in the White House under President Trump,” said Giuliani. “I’m very proud of my father’s legacy.”

But for most of his speech, Giuliani didn’t talk about his famous father or his time in Washington D.C. He said the Republican Party needs to correct some of the economic inequities coming out of Albany. He called for tax cuts, which he said will take a giant legislative effort in a “blue state” like New York. He said he will hold a press conference every day.

Giuliani also said the state needs “regulatory reform” to cut through red tape for development. He said state government needs to “incentivize businesses” in New York state. He said it is time to end Cuomo’s “boondagle budgets.”

In addition, Giuliani said the state needs to provide more educational opportunities.

“This is how we’re going to win,” he told local GOP faithful.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Derrick Gibson speaks at a GOP political forum Wednesday night at The Perthshire. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

The Manhattanite also said it was time to “stop the war on cops … enough.”

Giuliani said Bail Reform must be repealed because the state is already seeing “massive spikes in crime” since it was introduced. He said New York City saw more shootings in 2020 than 2018 and 2019 combined, and rates are over 70 percent higher in 2021.

“It has to stop,” he said.

As Cuomo tries to take away New Yorkers’ Second Amendment rights, Giuliani said the real war should be fought to get illegal weapons off the street.

“We need to make sure we are supporting our cops here,” he stated. “I will stand with them on that thin blue line every day that I am governor.”

The crowd at a GOP political forum Wednesday at The Perthshire. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

Giuliani said the other three men on the stage Wednesday were all “good men.”

“They would all make very good governors,” he said. “I look forward to coming back to Fulton County over the next 17 months and the next eight years.”

Congressman Zeldin — representing Suffolk County –talked about being an Army veteran and being a member of the U.S. House of Representatives since 2015.

“This feels like a room ready to fire Andrew Cuomo,” the 41-year-old Zeldin said. “We’re all in this together.”

He said he is “honored” to represent his district, and noted he has taken on Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi when he has to. He praised Fulton County’s congresswoman, U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik. He also praised state Sen. James Tedisco – Fulton County’s representative — a “great champion.”

New York State Republican gubernatorial candidates left to right, Andrew Giuliani, Rob Astorino, Derrick Gibson and U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin greet the Fulton County Republican Party at a forum Wednesday night at The Perthshire. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

As he travels the state, he said he finds people too enamored with unemployment benefits to work.

“What we’re hearing is employers are having trouble getting their employees back to work,” Zeldin said. “There’s much more we can do as a state to turn this thing around.”

Zeldin stated: “We need to improve the quality of education in our schools.”

He told the gathering he supports term limits, adding: “It is a bad idea for a governor to be running for a third term.”

Zeldin brought up Cuomo’s professional and personal baggage such as the nursing home scandal involving COVID.

“He’s been embarassing New York, he’s been disgracing himself,” he said of the governor.

The congressman said Republicans need to be “proud of your principles” and said he thinks the Cuomo Administration is essentially “pro-criminal.” He said the SAFE Act and Bail Reform have been disasterous for New York state.

The 54-year-old Astorino, a former Westchester County executive and failed 2014 GOP gubernatorial candidate. said he deserves another chance,

“I’d almost like to see him in a jumpsuit,” he said of Cuomo, who he thinks will be indicted and impeached.

Astorino said he felt like a “lone voice” in 2014 when he ran for governor, but he feels compelled to try again because things are worse today in the Empire State.

He said his Westchester County home area is “home of the lunatics” — a deep blue liberal part of New York. But he said there are some rural sections of home area and many minorities are unrepresented in New York state.

“We’re going to win by going to places Republicans don’t normally go and say ‘It’s nice to meet you. We’re going to make your life better,'” he said.

Astorino said the state needs to stand up to criminals — reversing a bad path started years ago with the Obama Administration’s Justice Department.

He touched on his experience in Westchester County, saying he went eight years without raising taxes.

“We have fiscal discipline,” Astorino said. “I’m ready for this fight. I am ready to finish what I started in 2014. We have to reform the state. This state needs a political enema.”

Gibson called many of New York state’s laws “ridiculous,” and he supports law enforcement.

“We are working with Black Lives Matter,” he said.

Gibson said there are many people voting in New York state that shouldn’t be voting, and he called on voter reform.

He said his campaign is centering on protecting the U.S. Constitution. He said the SAFE Act must be overturned.

“I am for religious freedom,” Gibson said..

He called Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio a “joke.”

On the topic of abortion, he stated: “I am not trying to tell a woman what to do with her body.” But he said he is against Planned Parenthood being paid by the government to provide abortions.

Gibson said he wasn’t vaccinated for COVID-19, which he called the “China Virus.” He said no one should have to get vaccinated.

“I want not force anybody,” he said.

Saying he was for term limits, Gibson added: “It doesn’t take you that long to do the right thing.”

Gibson, who didn’t explain much of his background, said he has much support in New York City.

“We’ve got to get back to the right way and what’s right for our citizens,” he said.

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