GOP backs candidates for U.S. Senate, state comptroller and AG

GARDEN CITY — Republicans in New York on Monday nominated candidates for state comptroller, U.S. Senate and attorney general on the first day of their two-day convention.

Republican delegates selected Paul Rodriguez, a former Puerto Rican-raised banker, as state comptroller; Joe Pinion, who they say is the first black man to run for the U.S. Senate in state history, and New York attorney Michael Henry, running for attorney general.

The candidates all presented platforms of fighting growing crime, lowering taxes and lowering the cost of living in New York that drives residents to other states.

“Democrats have an insatiable appetite for taxpayer dollars,” said Rodriguez, who is up against Democratic comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. “Tom DiNapoli is a nice man, but we can’t expect him to take over the legislature…he’s a career politician. We need an outsider.”

Queens’ Rodriguez said he would use the comptroller’s role as the sole administrator of the state’s retirement system to invest in New York’s businesses and workers, to provide them with assistance like the assistance that he received after growing up in poverty in Puerto Rico “where the game was stacked against us.”

DiNapoli campaign manager Ilana Maier said the comptroller has an “unrivaled record in defending taxpayers, exposing waste, fraud and abuse, protecting New York’s pension fund, d investing in the green economy and local businesses and ensuring government transparency and accountability”.

Republicans also backed Pinion, a Yonkers native who left a post as a political commentator on the conservative Newsmax website to run against Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer of Brooklyn. Pinion said progressives were trying to make the country socialist.

“I think in many ways the tide has turned,” Pinion said. He said Democrats had failed to lift children out of poverty and bad schools, had failed to address climate change, and had failed to create a serious and meaningful discussion about the increase in crime.

Pinion also said Schumer has also been criticized in his role as majority leader for failing to improve these longstanding issues after more than 24 years in office and for increasing partisanship in Washington.

“All of these issues are nonpartisan,” Pinion said, blaming “the division that has seeped into everything we do.”

Henry will face off against Democratic Attorney General Letitia James, whose cases include the ongoing fraud investigation of former Republican President Donald Trump’s company, the Trump Organization.

“My plan is to use the office … to change bad public policy, to put an end to this crime crisis,” said Henry, who is a commercial lawyer.

Campaign officials for James and Schumer did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The convention also sought to recreate the historic upset of 1994, when little-known George Pataki, then a state senator, defeated three-term Governor Mario M. Cuomo, a Democratic national star.

Pataki, the convention’s keynote speaker, told delegates they “have to build on the victories in Nassau County and Suffolk County.” That “red wave” included an upset victory by Nassau County Manager Bruce Blakeman that opened Monday’s events.

The final day of Tuesday will feature a statewide delegate vote for the gubernatorial and lieutenant governor nominees. Rep. Lee Zeldin of Shirley garnered non-binding endorsements from most county chairmen. But financier Harry Wilson entered the race last week and promises to spend $12 million of his own money to catch up.

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino is also seeking the party’s nomination, arguing it has a better chance of attracting enough votes outside the party to win in November. Former Trump administration aide Andrew Giuliani is also a candidate.

Candidates who lose Tuesday’s vote but get at least 25% of delegates’ weighted votes could also join the ballot for a June primary. If they do not receive 25%, the candidates could also collect petitions to access the primary ballot.

Republican state chairman Nick Langworthy said he preferred Republicans not to spend campaign money on the primaries, but an intraparty challenge could be inevitable.

Norman D. Briggs