Wilson of the GOP campaigns on his eligibility in the NY Democrat: “None of the other guys in the running can win” | Local News
Harry Wilson is once again criss-crossing New York State in a major political campaign, just like in 2010 during his unsuccessful Republican bid for comptroller.
Of course, he acknowledges, he lost that race to Democrat Thomas P. DiNapoli. But he’s quick to note the 4 percentage points he was defeated by — the closest a Republican has come statewide since Governor George E. Pataki’s last victory in 2002. Now, as he picks up speed his gubernatorial campaign — first against three opponents in the GOP primary and he hopes against incumbent Democrat Kathy Hochul in the general election — Wilson said only he can secure a Republican victory in New York’s ultra-Democrat .
“Thinking about it…I basically said none of the other candidates can win, and I asked if I started late, can I win both a primary and a general election,” he said. declared. “It was clear to me that there was a path for both.”
Wilson now charges simultaneously on both of these paths. In Buffalo on Friday, he continued to meet with key supporters ahead of the June 28 Republican primary. He is now engaged in a four-way contest some say might never have happened had he entered the race in 2021, when Republican leaders were practically camping out on his lawn in Westchester County, the begging to enter the race for governor.
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They acknowledged his credible effort against DiNapoli, his upstate roots in Johnstown, his American achievement as the son of Greek immigrants rising to the tops of Wall Street, and his status as a non-politician. But Wilson declined because of pressing business interests he recently inherited, the same business interests that forged his reputation for turning around troubled businesses and made him a multi-millionaire.
So early that year Wilson finally entered the race, with party leaders already singling out Suffolk County Rep. Lee Zeldin as the approved candidate. Now Wilson is competing with Zeldin, former Westchester County executive Rob Astorino and former Trump administration official Andrew Giuliani for the Republican line.
“For some reason the party leaders always thought I was the best candidate,” Wilson says now, “hopefully the voters think so too.”
Wilson said the same skills that made him successful in business will serve New York, which he calls a troubled state. He can easily slash the state budget by $25 billion, he said, with his same techniques that have toppled struggling businesses. While some have criticized his techniques for cutting jobs and worker benefits, he has always argued that his methods ultimately save businesses.
“It would be very easy for me to do none of this. I love my business, I love my family. I’ve been blessed,” he said in an interview with The Buffalo News on Friday. “But I have a number of God-given gifts, and I can really work through tough situations. I don’t think there’s a better way to give back than to use those gifts to fix New State. York.”
After his 12-year absence from politics, Wilson is back in force. Ubiquitous on TV, his ads hit Hochul and Zeldin — often sticking their images alongside former Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. In the primary alone, he pledged to spend $10 million of his own money, with more to come if he wins on June 28.
Now he speaks of freedom and his ideas of limited government; opportunity, primarily by addressing the many problems of public schools; and security. He calls the surge in crime across the state a failure of the government’s primary responsibility to keep its citizens safe.
Even as the debate rages in the wake of recent shooting massacres in Buffalo and Texas, Wilson opposes weakening the Second Amendment. He rejects “the politicians who go to their corner”; Democrats who want to “take away the rights of gun-law-abiding citizens, or Republicans who consider red flags unnecessary at all.”
“We have to figure out why not?” he said of red flag laws that have failed to identify the mentally ill and others who pose a real armed threat. “We need common-sense assessments to make sure people who might pose threats are dealt with proactively.”
Wilson insists that removing wasteful hog barrel projects from the budget would result in a historic tax cut, estimating that New Yorkers could save $3,000 a year. It’s no coincidence, he said, that many of the projects Hochul is now announcing across the state follow his peak period of campaign fundraising when forming the budget.
“She basically saw it as an opportunity to give political favors,” he says. “I think it’s corrupt. I think taking taxpayers’ money to basically buy support to make his election more likely is inherently a problem.”
His vision for the budget, he said, is to adhere to the state’s “core mission” of “facilitating the quality of life for people in the state” and “setting the stage” for businesses prosperity and job creation.
Wilson continues his upstate swing today with stops in Rochester and central New York.