New York Republicans return to the political desert

Supporters of Representative Lee Zeldin’s government offer showed up Tuesday night at Cipriani’s in Midtown Manhattan with anticipation. Their man, widely believed, had the best chance of becoming New York’s first Republican governor in decades.

They will have to wait another four years.

New York Republicans will remain in New York’s political wasteland after Tuesday night’s statewide defeats. Zeldin was defeated by Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul, while the party’s candidates for US Attorney General, Controller and Senator lost their bids.

The Democrats will retain a majority in the Senate and the State Assembly, giving them every leverage of power in Albany.

When the results came out Tuesday night, the enthusiasm that was pervasive in the campaign for Zeldin leaked like air from a balloon.

“We lost three million votes in the registration,” said New York Republican President Nick Langworthy. “It is very difficult to win a state office here.”

Democrats have more than 6 million registered voters in New York, compared to less than 2.9 million for Republicans, who are outnumbered by registered voters who are not registered in any of the parties.

Zeldin hoped to compete in heavily democratic New York City with a message about public safety and crime. But in these times of polarization, getting a significant number of Democratic cross votes is difficult.

Republicans had also seen Zeldin’s momentum in the final days of the election, as he received support from independent spending committees and Republicans with national profiles, such as Florida’s Ron DeSantis.

Langworthy started this cycle hoping to pull off a turmoil and win back the governor’s office for the party. He will now go to Congress after winning a seat in the Western New York House of Representatives.

The Republicans were also proud to present a note that resembled the one in New York: Zeldin would be the third Jewish governor of New York; Allison Esposito, the first openly gay woman to be lieutenant governor; Paul Rodríguez, the first Hispanic to be a controller.

“It’s a different ticket, but it’s also a qualified ticket,” said John Burnett, executive vice president of the state party.

Republicans have some good points to aim for this year, including the victories in the New York suburbs they hope to build on. Once all the votes are counted, the run for government is likely to be the closest victory for a Democrat in years.

However, Republicans recognize that work is needed if the party is to regain statewide power.

“There is always room to grow, room to build, lessons to learn,” Langworthy said.

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