Rob Astorino claims Lee Zeldin tried to stop him from running for governor

Rob Astorino on Tuesday claimed presumptive Republican Party governor-elect Lee Zeldin was behind an attempt to remove him from the general election after specific challenges to his petitions were filed with the state elections commission.

Some of the same voters who filed challenges to Astorino’s petitions to qualify for the Republican gubernatorial election also filed objections to Andrew Giuliani’s petitions last week, according to Tuesday’s Electoral Committee recordings.

“Lee Zeldin was a puppet of Andrew Cuomo in Albany, and he doesn’t want major opponents to point that out to voters,” Astorino told The Post, referring to Zeldin’s time in the state senate prior to his election to congress.

“Now he’s trying, with a straight face, to claim that he’s not behind the Signature Challenges, which are certain to fail. This is straight out of the Albany swamp book. That’s why Republicans need a proven reformer like me in the Executive Chamber to really transform this state,” Astorino said.

The Republican Party elected Zeldin, a Congressman from Long Island, as its appointee at its March convention, automatically granting him electoral status without having to collect voter signatures.

Former Westchester County Republican Executive Rob Astorino
Rob Astorino called Lee Zeldin “an Andrew Cuomo puppet in Albany”.
Hans Penink

Candidates must collect 15,000 valid Republican signatures and at least 100 in half of the state’s congressional districts to qualify for voting status.

Astorino, the former two-term head of Westchester County who was nominated for governor by the Republican Party in 2014 and lost to Democrat Andrew Cuomo, collected 20,673 signatures.

One voter, Barbara Ellman, claims that 3,963 of the voter signatures collected by Astorino were invalid.

The challenge shows Ellman questioning whether Astorino received enough valid signatures in half of the congressional districts.

The Zeldin campaign insisted their hands be clean.

“All objections and their respective objections are being raised by others,” said Katie Vincentz, spokeswoman for the Zeldin campaign.

“For the ballot, the law requires 15,000 valid signatures from registered Republicans, including 100 valid signatures from at least half of New York’s congressional districts. If you meet those requirements, you’ll be in the primary and have nothing to worry about,” she said.

No specific objections were raised to the petitions of another GOP governor hopeful, businessman Harry Wilson.

Andrew Giuliani speaks during the 2022 NY GOP Convention.
Andrew Giuliani speaks during the 2022 GOP Convention on March 1, 2022.
Dennis A Clark

Meanwhile, numerous legal challenges have been filed against candidates in legislative and state committee campaigns, particularly in Brooklyn, where regulars and insurgents are embroiled in an ongoing civil war.

Petitions have been filed in Brooklyn against MPs Marcela Mitaynes, Mathylde Frontus, Erik Dilan and Maritza Davila.

Sabrina Rezzy, a spokeswoman for Brooklyn Democratic Party leader and Rep. Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, also faced a petition challenge for a state committee post.

Bichotte Hermelyn challenges the petitions of Victor Jordan for the Assembly and Democratic State Committee post and Kenneth Lee for a State Committee post.

There were also objections to the petitions by Senator Robert Jackson, representing North Manhattan; Bronx Rep. Jose Rivera, a former Bronx Democratic leader; Queens Assembly members Nily Rozic and Alicia Hyndman and Staten Island Assemblyman Charles Fall. Rob Astorino claims Lee Zeldin tried to stop him from running for governor


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