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Harry Wilson enters New York governor’s race, shaking up GOP primary

Add another Republican to the list of those seeking to challenge New York Gov. Kathy Hochul.

Harry Wilson, a Westchester resident and former hedge fund manager, announced his candidacy for governor Tuesday, shaking up the race for the GOP nod a week before the party is set to hold its nominating convention.

He becomes the latest of a handful of Republicans to enter the race, including Rep. Lee Zeldin of Long Island, former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino and former Trump aide Andrew Giuliani, son of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

“Hard-working people have had problem after problem caused by Albany,” Wilson said in a two-minute-long video launching his campaign. “We don’t have to sit idly by and watch it get worse. A career politician can’t fix it, but I can.”

Wilson is no stranger to New York politics. He ran for state comptroller in 2010, narrowly losing out to incumbent Democrat Tom DiNapoli by a margin of 51-46%.

Since then, Republican leaders have tried to convince Wilson to run for governor, in part because Wilson’s wealth could help alleviate fundraising concerns. He personally loaned more than $3.8 million to his campaign in 2010, according to state Board of Elections records.

After taking a pass in 2014 and 2018, Wilson says he’s in for 2022 and, according to Fox News, planning on putting $12 million into the race. His television ads are expected to begin hitting the air Wednesday, according to his campaign.

Wilson is the founder and CEO of the MAEVA Group, a firm that specializes in trying to turn around struggling businesses. He was a senior adviser for President Barack Obama’s Task Force on the Auto Industry, a panel that helped oversee the bailout of General Motors and Chrysler in 2009.

He’s a native of Johnstown, a small city about 45 miles west of Albany, and now lives in the Westchester village of Scarsdale.

Whether Wilson can get on the Republican primary ballot may depend on some wheeling-and-dealing at the Garden City Hotel in Nassau County, where the Republican State Committee will gather on Monday and Tuesday for its convention. A candidate must get 25% of the committee’s weighted vote to get on the primary ballot without having to collect petition signatures from Republican voters.

Most county GOP leaders have already announced their support for Zeldin. And Wilson’s home county of Westchester is supporting Astorino, despite Wilson hopping into the race, county chairman Doug Colety said Tuesday.

“We’re firmly behind Rob, but I will go through the motions and discuss everything with everybody,” Colety said. “But I don’t see Westchester changing their vote.”

Hochul, a Democrat, has cemented herself as the front-runner in the race for governor after taking over when former Gov. Andrew Cuomo resigned in August.

She is facing a primary challenge from two fellow Democrats — Rep. Tom Suozzi of Long Island and New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.

A Siena College poll released Tuesday showed Hochul with a significant lead over her primary opponents, picking up support from 46% compared to Williams’ 17% and Suozzi’s 9%.

Any Republican candidate faces a major uphill climb in New York, where Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than 2 to 1. The last Republican to win a statewide election was Gov. George Pataki in 2002.

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