Andrew Giuliani (photo: Instagram)
Andrew Giuliani, Trump administration alum and son of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, is outperforming his rival GOP candidates in the polls early in this year’s race for governor.
Statewide, Republican leadership has dubbed Long Island Congressional Rep. Lee Zeldin the presumptive nominee, and Zeldin’s campaign has far out-fundraised the other candidates. But Giuliani is confident in his chances, and early polling is bolstering his case.
Just 36 years old, Giuliani is a first-time candidate for office and running on reducing crime, increasing school choice, rolling back business regulations and covid mandates. An ardent ally of former President Trump, Giuliani expresses doubts about the validity of the 2020 election and equivocates over whether Joe Biden is a legitimately elected president, despite the facts.
Gotham Gazette recently spoke with Andrew Giuliani about his campaign for governor. Below is that interview, slightly edited for clarity.
Gotham Gazette (GG): What qualifies you to be Governor?
Andrew Giuliani: During the last year I have not worked in the White House, but [I spent] the previous four years working under President Trump in the Office of the Public Liaison. I worked on issues including the Paycheck Protection Program, making sure MTA had funding through the CARES Act, the 9/11 Health Bill, and also making sure that the 9/11 first responders were able to have the full pool of money that was due to them.
There was a mix up between the Treasury Department and [Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services] where about $4 million was missing. And this was something that had happened not just during the Trump administration. It actually started under Bush in 2007, continuing under Obama, and continued under our administration, and basically it was a clerical error. But by the time you know, 14, 13 years had wound up, you're talking about $4 million that was missing. So we were able to correct that.
And on top of that, I ended up working on regulatory issues. I've played a small role in this. But the promise that President Trump made during his campaign in 2016, which is for every regulation he signed into law, he would cut two, and that number was over eight to one by the time he left office. I think that's one of the reasons why we saw economic success certainly until the pandemic hit during the administration.
GG: One of the themes of the Republican primary in any state, but perhaps especially in New York, is a candidate’s ties to Trump. Lee Zeldin has often touted himself as somebody who has been a longtime ally of the former president. You also have a personal relationship with the former president. So how do you feel that your ties to the former president will maybe help you in the primary and possibly hurt you in the general election? Do you think that this is something that New York voters are passionate about?
Andrew Giuliani: Well, I think that there's no doubt that President Trump is the head of the Republican Party. That's going to be the case in 2022 and it's going to be the case in 2024. Whether President Trump chooses to run or whether he's not, he's going to obviously play a massive role in deciding who the Republican nominee is. And he's going to play a massive role in getting him elected … For me, I let other people handicap whether or not being close with President Trump or having the last name Giuliani helps or hurts. The only thing that I could do is be genuine with voters. And what I've told voters before is, I'm not going to back away from the fact that I worked four years in the Trump administration. I've known the former president for 25 years, and we still have a good relationship. Some people may say that helps, some people may say that hurts, but I think more [importantly], it's important to be genuine to voters and to New Yorkers, and that's where I stand on it. I still consider him a friend and mentor. And I'll let everybody else determine whether or not that hurts or helps.
GG: How do you feel about what President Trump has said about the 2020 election? Would you say that you agree with the former president that the election was stolen? Do you believe that Joe Biden is a legitimate president?
Andrew Giuliani: So I'll say this, I ended up volunteering in campaign headquarters after November 3. And I read through over 200 of the over 1000 affidavits that came in signed under penalty of perjury talking about different election issues that they saw and some that I would claim would be fraud. I think to me, the thing that's very sad about all of this is, you had a judiciary that [just did not] want to touch it because it was too political. And so I have concerns about the 2020 election. I have concerns moving forward for our election in 2022 [and] 2024. When you see a Democratic Party that wants to push outlawing voter identification, when literally 80% of Americans agree with us, that's a Monmouth poll that came out last year. That's not you know, my number. That's a Monmouth poll. I think it shows that you're trying to skirt election integrity. So I certainly have my concerns with the 2020 election.
GG: But do you believe that Joe Biden is a legitimate president?
Andrew Giuliani: I believe that we will never know who legitimately won the 2020 election to be perfectly honest, and that is a big concern. And then if you look back at 2016, at the 2016 election, I think if you were to talk to a lot of Democrats, they would have said they don't know who the legitimate president [is]. So you're talking about probably over 85% of Americans who question over the last two elections, who the legitimate president was, who legitimately is elected. That's a problem we need to fix. And I think that's got to be bipartisan. And that's not going to be fixed by a completely partisan January 6th committee. I mean, you can tell me that there are two Republicans on there, but they may hate Trump more than most Democrats do. So you know, once Kevin McCarthy was denied representation on there for the minority, it became a political hack job and it didn't become an actual discovery into what happened on January 6th, and certainly did not become a discovery on what happened in the weeks and months leading up to the election and after the election.
*NOTE: There is no evidence to suggest that the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent or stolen, or that Joe Biden was elected illegitimately.*
GG: Another thing that's going to be unique about this election is that this is the first time since 1998 that Andrew Cuomo will not be on a statewide ballot in New York.
Andrew Giuliani: By the way, we have until March 30 until the filing deadline, so who knows, don’t hold your breath there, you know, you never know.
GG: So, we're assuming that Andrew Cuomo is not going to be in the race. These are obviously uncharted waters, right? Because he's had a hold on the Democratic Party in New York for a very long time. What is going to be different about this race, seeing as Cuomo isn't going to be there?
Andrew Giuliani: Well, you know, look, obviously, as you pointed out, he's had a hold on the Democratic Party in the state of New York for a long time. But I look at it and say, let's look at the last 15 years, not just Andrew Cuomo's ten-and-a-half years as governor, look at Spitzer and Patterson and Cuomo and now Hochul and unfortunately, we're just seeing more and more of the same. I would actually argue that Kathy Hochul has shifted further left faster than Andrew Cuomo. Andrew Cuomo, in some ways, would resist the radicals in his party, for the wrong reasons, mind you, it was for power, not for the right reasons, but he would. Unfortunately, I think what I've seen with Kathy Hochul over the past few months is she has gone as far to the left as fast as possible in order to secure the Democratic nomination.
So my concerns didn't start with Andrew Cuomo and they don't end with Andrew Cuomo. It's Democratic leadership in New York. And unfortunately, it's why we've led the country in out-migration over the last year, right. I mean, we lost 1.7% of our population, over 300,000 New Yorkers, and it's why you hear countless people and businesses that are looking and saying “you know what, I'm heading to Florida or Texas or Tennessee.” I'd rather, from an economic standpoint, compete with the likes of Florida than I would California.
GG: This is an issue that Lee Zeldin talks about all the time as well: out-migration on account of New York’s cost of living. It has definitely informed a lot of what he's talking about. So I'm curious, if you could distill your platform, what is Andrew Giuliani for?
Andrew Giuliani: So what I'm for is reducing crime in New York. That's first and foremost. I think in the light of officer Rivera and officer Mora, who were 22 and 27 years old, [who] made the ultimate sacrifice for New York. I think first and foremost, we need to make sure from the state level we repeal bail reform on day one. I was very, very concerned listening to Kathy Hochul's State of the State speech…that she never mentioned bail reform or cashless bail.
Traveling around the state, this is not just talking to Republicans, this is also talking to independents and some Democrats, the number one issue is crime around our state. Look, it's why Eric Adams became the Democratic nominee out of that massive Democratic primary because he was the first candidate, really, the only candidate, to acknowledge that crime is a problem. It's why I've called on Hochul to remove [Manhattan District Attorney] Alvin Bragg because I believe he is violating his oath of office. When you look and you read the New York State Constitution, Article 8 Section 13B, she can remove him, and I would remove him or any other prosecutor that looks at resisting arrest and armed robbery as non-dangerous crimes and doesn't want to prosecute them as felonies. So crime is certainly number one.
Education, I want more parents, I want more children, to have more choice…over their children's education. That's introducing a tax voucher program in New York. That's making sure that we up the charter schools cap from 460 statewide to over 1,000 in my first term, which I've pledged to make happen. And look, those tax vouchers, going back to that…New York is one of the highest states in the country in property taxes. Certainly when you look at each county, like a county like Westchester County, I think they might be the highest county in the country in property taxes. Those parents, if they don't ultimately like a school or the fact that school is not back in, or if they don't necessarily agree with the curriculum, they should have the option to take their tax dollars and use it toward a parochial school or homeschool. So I'm a big believer in the free market. And that's one way to introduce the free market into education.
And transitioning on into the economy, I mentioned regulatory reform. That's certainly something in New York we need to look at, to reduce the regulation, one of the most overly-regulated states, and we need to make sure we take the approach that President Trump took in the country and reduce regulation in New York, but also we need to cut taxes. We cannot be the highest taxed in the country or [continue] to compete with California, as I had said, for who's going to be the highest taxed state in the country.
I would ask for a quick comparison. Florida has a million more people than New York. Florida's budget is $97 billion. At least that was last year's budget, I'm not certain what the new number is. $97 billion. New York's budget is now $216 billion, over two times what Florida's is with a million less people. Who's doing it better and where are people deciding to go for more economic opportunity?
And then I would also add, too, I am anti-mandate [for COVID vaccination]. I believe that this should be a decision that parents, people, their families, and their doctor make. This is not something that the government should impose on any New Yorker. And I'm very happy with what I'm seeing not just in the Supreme Court, but also in New York State court here. I think that we're going to continue to see that these mandates are unconstitutional. And I would roll them back. Look, I'm very proud of President Trump and Warp Speed, and I think it gave Americans an option, but that's what it was, an option, not a mandate.
GG: If you were to be elected, what would you do if you're looking at what is most likely going to be Democratic supermajorities in the State Legislature? How do you think you're going to be able to get these things done?
Andrew Giuliani: Well, what I would say is this: Yes, we have Democratic supermajorities, obviously, in the Assembly and the State Senate now. I do think, with a strong top of the ticket, we are going to eliminate both of those supermajorities in the State Senate and the Assembly. Now, it'll be very difficult to win back the Assembly. The State Senate, we might have a shot at winning back, but that's going to be also tough to do.
So I would certainly concede that it's likely that we would at least have to work with Democratic majorities in the Senate and Assembly. Look, for us, I am a big believer in giving each Senator, each Assembly member, the opportunity to pitch their case to the governor and have a working relationship. But if I feel at some point that they want to play politics, rather than actually put their constituents first, what I will do is I will take the message and the bully pulpit on the road, and I will make sure that we talk to every single New Yorker who I believe is being misrepresented by their member of the Assembly and member of the State Senate. So I think you'll see in 2023, you'll see certainly Andrew Giuliani on the road all across the state talking to as many New Yorkers as possible at what I believe is going to be the path to truly make New York one of the safest and most prosperous states in the country again.
GG: How are you being received as you travel around the state campaigning? The most recent data from the Board of Elections say that the downstate share of the vote has increased, the downstate share of the vote being of course most likely predominantly Democrats. Rob Astorino, who is also in the race, has said that he's uniquely capable of not necessarily winning New York City, but, having served as Westchester County Executive as a Republican, is something that is indicative of his ability to flip districts. Do you think that you have a shot at winning the downstate share of the vote?
Andrew Giuliani: So first off, Rob is a good guy and a good friend. And, you know, I think it's a math equation on this, right? You've got to win at least 30% of New York City, and mattering on turnout, up to 33% of New York City. It's all depending on turnout, obviously. You highlighted the fact that the downstate share has increased, it has. But what I would also point to you is the successes in Nassau County, in Suffolk County, in Erie County, for Republicans, not just specifically Buffalo with the Byron Brown/[India] Walton issue, but you know, in Erie County outside of Buffalo, I would say really everywhere. But let's say Monroe County, Rochester County, Republicans had a very, very positive night on November 2. I think what it did was it showed us that there is a real path.
You know, one of the men who has endorsed me is Curtis Sliwa, who ran for mayor of New York. As you know, he ended up getting about 29% of New York City. And I think running against probably the toughest candidate he could have ran against, right? I mean, he ran against somebody who was a former Republican, who was acknowledging the crime was an issue, and was telling New Yorkers what they wanted to hear, what they needed to hear. So I think that path, getting 30-plus percent in New York City, is right there. And what I would point to you as one of the differences between myself, the congressman from Long Island [Zeldin], and Rob Astorino, is if you look at the most recent Siena polls, at least the last couple, I don't know where the ones in September, in October stood, certainly in December and January; I ask you to look at Democrats when they asked about favorability, what you'll see with the other Republican candidates is nobody really cracks 15 percent. In the last two polls among Democrats, 25 and 26 percent of Democrats statewide find my candidacy favorable. That is the key to being able to win in New York State, and that is why we have the best path to victory when we are the nominee on June 29. And it's why we get the best chance on November 8.
GG: A big part of getting there is the money. Lee Zeldin, even while in Congress, has solicited donations from some big players. Stephen Schwarzman has given him money, other people of national political prominence have bought into his candidacy, and he's done pretty well on the finance front. What does your strategy look like in terms of beating him financially?
Andrew Giuliani: [Zeldin has] outraised us, and our grassroots campaign has been really focused on the people. That's really what it's been focused on, trying to shake as many hands, talk to as many New Yorkers as possible. So we continue to focus on it. But you know, I would look, even just at the last two presidential elections, right? In 2016, Donald Trump was outraised and he won. In 2020, Biden was outraised and he was sworn in on January 20. So you know, money is not the only thing in this. It's about connecting with voters. And that's what I implore you to look at.