While the four top conservative New York gubernatorial candidates may not differ much on their conservative policies, one of them was front and center as the target in the debate that aired live Tuesday night on Newsmax.
"I guess it's pretty clear for the listeners at home: You'll know who's in first place and who's the front runner in this race," Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y. – endorsed by Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, the New York Post, and Ric Grenell – told host Eric Bolling during an onslaught of mud-slinging, challenging his record and past votes.
"As far as my record, I've now won seven consecutive races in purple suburban districts."
The challengers, Andrew Giuliani, Rob Astorino, and Harry Wilson, were united in taking their last shots at the polling leader before the Tuesday, June 28 primary.
"Lee made the list – he is in the top – one of the top liberal Republicans in the House of Representatives, now that's on his voting record," Astorino said in one of his myriad exchanges with Zeldin, where both candidates alternated suggesting the other was lying in their response.
Giuliani also excoriated Zeldin for a past CNN interview where Zeldin could not definitively reject the liberal media's host desire to label then-President Donald Trump a "racist" for one of his past tweets.
"I think this is just typical of Lee, who honestly is a flip-flopper," Giuliani said. "This is a guy who, a couple of years ago said President Trump made racist statements and then lied to you last night. Ladies and gentlemen, unfortunately, he's going to flip and flop."
Giuliani then turned to Zeldin adding, "you were with Trump before you were against him, or against him before that. I can't even tell. You can't even get it straight."
The gloves came off at times, including Zeldin immediately taking a retaliatory shot at Giuliani, the famed son of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Andrew Giuliani was once parodied in a Chris Farley skit on "Saturday Night Live" for being the young son of the mayor.
"Listen, for somebody whose claim to fame was that Chris Farley made fun of him on 'Saturday Night Live' for being an obnoxious kid – who ends up becoming more obnoxious and ends up getting kicked off the Duke golf team. And then you basically get in a position as Chick-fil-A runner at the White House – outranked by the White House Easter Egg Bunny."
The Zeldin-Giuliani barbs included Giuliani beating back an interrupting Zeldin with: "You can stop being a child, Lee."
Bolling did ask about Andrew Giuliani's name recognition in the debate.
"I'm very proud of my name, and people would say, well, we're the famous last name; it's easy to run in politics," Giuliani said, as the camera showed his father in the gallery. "I would tell you with the name like Andrew, it's very difficult to be the leading candidate for governor in a Republican primary."
Giuliani noted, referencing disgraced former Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
"Look, I'm proud of the four years that I worked for President Donald J. Trump in the White House," Giuliani said. "I'm the only person on this stage that always supported President Donald J. Trump and didn't call him other kinds of names. And I am very, very proud of, I think, New York's greatest crime fighter Rudolph W. Giuliani."
Wilson, while he was also attacked at times for having some more moderate views – including some boos when he apologized to the crowd for being "pro-choice," an unpopular position among conservatives – did get in on the attacks of Zeldin, too.
"He can't handle the truth," Wilson said, attacking Zeldin's defenses of his past voting record on New York state budgets.
When the dust-ups settled, under Bolling's direction, the candidates did close with vows to support whomever winds up winning next Tuesday's GOP gubernatorial primary.
"Whoever wins, we will speak with one voice and defeat Kathy Hochul and the radicals in New York," Astorino vowed, a sentiment shared by all.
The trio of Zeldin challengers, though, attempted to not take an affirmative for an answer, denouncing Zeldin's bravado of saying he will support the winner, and it will be himself.
"It is a hard-fought primary," Zeldin concluded. "There are passions inside of this room and outside in this state. I will support the primary winner next Tuesday.
"Losing this race, for all of us, is not an option."
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Eric Mack ✉
Eric Mack has been a writer and editor at Newsmax since 2016. He is a 1998 Syracuse University journalism graduate and a New York Press Association award-winning writer.
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