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The pro-abortion rights, former Obama adviser Republican running for New York governor

6 36 17
21.05.2022

JOHNSTOWN, N.Y. — New York Republicans spent years being rejected by Harry Wilson, a corporate consulting executive who repeatedly demurred a run for governor to focus on his family and career.

In February, he finally changed his mind. Now the state GOP is the one rejecting him.

By the time Wilson — a Westchester County businessperson who built a fortune after decades on Wall Street and advised President Barack Obama’s Treasury department — jumped into the race, the party had lavished endorsements and resources on Rep. Lee Zeldin. The Long Island congressman is a close ally of former President Donald Trump and recently said appointing an anti-abortion rights health commissioner in New York would be a “great idea.



Now Wilson will face Zeldin in the June 28 primary — alongside former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino and Andrew Giuliani, the son of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani — in a race that could gauge just how far the party has shifted since the last time a Republican was elected New York governor in 2002.

“Look, I'm a lifelong Republican. I think I'm more consistent with the Republican Party than some of my erstwhile opponents. So I think I’m going to win the nomination,” Wilson said in an interview during a visit to his upstate hometown.

“Keep in mind these are the exact same people who begged me to run in 2018 and 2021. And I said no for good reasons. But the only reason Zeldin is where he is, is because I said no.”

Wilson, 50, is the kind of Republican who used to win statewide in New York — the term Rockefeller Republicans, of course, dates back to Gov. Nelson Rockefeller in the 1960s — but has become rare in 2022’s polarized environment.

He is the only pro-abortion-rights candidate in the GOP field, a position he says evolved as part of his Christian upbringing, but he’s primarily focusing on his resume: a former hedge fund manager who specializes in turning around failing companies and who was a senior adviser for President Barack Obama’s Task Force on the Auto Industry, which shepherded the 2009 bailout of General Motors and Chrysler.

He later told a House of Representatives subcommittee that, though a “lifelong Republican,” his role with the Treasury was born from knowing his experiences could “serve my country in this time of great need” — evoking an old-fashioned display of bipartisan problem-solving in crisis.

He’s a contrast to Zeldin, whose positions on abortion, blasting critical race theory and rolling back many recent criminal justice reforms backed by Democrats may excite the GOP base.

But in a year when abortion is now likely to be figuratively on the ballot after POLITICO published a draft Supreme Court decision striking down Roe v. Wade, an anti-abortion rights stalwart like Zeldin might struggle in the general election. New York has not elected a statewide candidate opposed to abortion in decades. Democrats outnumber Republicans 5.9 million to 2.7 million and, in 2020, non-affiliated voters surpassed enrolled Republicans.



The need to pull Democrats and “blank” voters is a task that Wilson, who grew up in the blue-collar upstate city of Johnstown, has argued he is best positioned to do. Wilson said he doesn’t think being relatively late matters as much as people say it does. He has promised to spend $12 million of his own money in the primary.

Wilson had a trial run campaigning statewide: In 2010, he made a........

© Politico


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