By this point, New York Republicans know this refrain by heart.
The state is blue and getting bluer, with more than twice as many registered Democrats as Republicans. Both houses of the state Legislature are firmly controlled by Democrats. And no Republican has won statewide office since then-Gov. George Pataki won a third term in 2002.
This week on Long Island — a GOP stronghold in the state — Republican leaders will have the opportunity to explain how they intend to change that.
The New York Republican State Committee will gather Monday and Tuesday at the Garden City Hotel in Nassau County for their nominating convention. By the time the gathering is over, party leaders will have selected their preferred candidates for governor, lieutenant governor, comptroller, attorney general and U.S. Senate.
At least five Republican candidates are seeking the party’s nod to run for the governor’s office, currently occupied by Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul, who won the backing as the preferred candidate at her party’s convention early this month. But one candidate, U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin of Long Island, has been running away with institutional support, already garnering the endorsement of 60 of 62 county GOP chairs in the state.
Still, with party leaders gathered in person in one place, the convention could present one final chance for some last-minute political deal-making for candidates hoping to make the June 28 primary ballot.
“I’m hearing different things,” Westchester GOP Chair Doug Colety said last week of who might make the ballot. “All of the votes will be cast at the convention and that’s the time all the deals will be made.”
Here’s how it works: The Republican State Committee – which is made up of party leaders, elected officials and their allies from each Assembly district in New York – will cast ballots for each race that are weighted based on the Republican vote from the 2018 governor’s race.
If a candidate gets 25% of the weighted vote, they earn an automatic place on the ballot for the June 28 Republican primary. If they don’t, they can still make the ballot by collecting more than 13,000 petition signatures from registered Republicans spread throughout the state – a time-consuming, resource-eating process.
When it comes to the governor’s race, Zeldin has positioned himself as the front-runner for the party leaders’ nod. If committee members vote along with their county leaders – which often happens, but not always – Zeldin would block the other candidates from getting an automatic slot on the ballot.
Among those candidates are former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, who ran for governor in 2014 and has Colety’s support. Lewis County in the North Country is backing its hometown sheriff, Mike Carpinelli.
Also running are Andrew Giuliani, the son of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and Harry Wilson, a business consultant and former hedge fund manager who just entered the race last week.
Zeldin said he’s been able to garner the support of party leaders by relentlessly traveling the state and laying the groundwork for his campaign over the last several months.
“This is a product of working hard, of starting early, of going out and meeting people and earning their support and answering their questions and showing up over and over and over again,” Zeldin said at an event in Manhattan last week.
Republicans will nominate their candidates for governor and lieutenant governor on Tuesday, a day after picking candidates for attorney general, comptroller and U.S. Senate.
The leading GOP candidate to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer is Joe Pinion, a pundit who has hosted a show on Newsmax, the conservative television outlet.
“Certainly we are going to need committed individuals up and down the ballot this cycle to prioritize a message that prioritizes the needs of people,” Pinion said.
For candidates that fail to get on the Republican ballot at the convention, they can begin to collect petition signatures on Tuesday.