Andrew Giuliani Trying to Become Youngest NY Governor in 200 Years

By Reuvain Borchardt

NEW YORK — Andrew Giuliani is seeking to become the youngest governor of New York in more than two centuries. Then again, he got (unofficially) started in politics even before some of his older opponents did.

It was January 1, 1994. Andrew’s father, Rudy, was about to be sworn in as the 107th mayor of New York City. 

When Rudy raised his hand and took the oath of office from Judge Michael Mukasey, 7-year-old Andrew stood between them, his own hand aloft, repeating words of the oath. When Rudy stepped up to the lectern, so did Andrew right beside him, leading Rudy to joke, “I’m going to have a co-addressee, I guess.” When Rudy delivered his inaugural address, Andrew waved and blew kisses to the crowd, mimicked his father’s fist pumps, and looked at his printed speech, reading aloud lines before his dad did, famously finishing with, “It should be so, and it will be so!”

While Rudy would go on to become one of the most consequential and famous mayors in decades, he was upstaged on his first day on the job by his little boy.

That boy is now a man – 36 years old, fresh off four years in the Trump White House, where he served as associate director of the office of public liaison, then as special assistant to the president. In these roles, Giuliani arranged visits by sports teams to the White House, and worked on more weighty matters including Trump’s deregulatory agenda, Medicaid funding for 9/11 health responders, the COVID Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP) and stimulus funding for the MTA.

Giuliani’s opponents in the Republican gubernatorial primary include the favorite, U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin, 42; Rob Astorino, 55, a former Westchester County executive; and Harry Wilson, 50, a business executive who previously worked on the restructuring of General Motors and ran unsuccessfully for state comptroller in 2010.

New York gubernatorial candidates typically aren’t 36 years old having never even ran for public office or had business executive experience, but Giuliani says that his “role models” — his father and Trump, with whom he is personally close and a frequent golf partner — are proof that one can win high office without holding lower office first.

“I know a guy who ran for mayor who did pretty well, and whose name is Giuliani, who’d never held political office,” Giuliani says, in an interview with Hamodia on an outdoor deck of his Battery Park City apartment building. “I also know a guy who was president of the United States pretty well, a guy named Trump, who’d never held political office. I think some of the best leaders are ones that maybe don’t come throughout the political system, that are not the controlled candidates, but that … can be the change agents that we need in a city, in a country or in a state.”

CRIME

The issue of crime is viewed as a major factor in the upcoming gubernatorial election.

A state bail reform bill passed by the Democratic majority in 2019 has been blamed by critics as a cause of a crime spike that began the following year. 

After years of a Democratic move toward more liberal criminal-justice policies, the pendulum has recently swung somewhat in the opposite direction: New York City last year elected as mayor Eric Adams, a former NYPD captain with some of the most conservative views on crime-fighting among Democrats; the state Legislature initially rolled back some of the bail reform, then made some further rollbacks this year again, at Hochul’s insistence, despite resistance from her party’s progressive wing.

But Giuliani says he would insist on a full repeal.

And how would he accomplish that, with a Legislature that will still be Democrat-dominated when the next governor takes office?

“I will sit down with [State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie] and say very simply, ‘We need a full repeal of bail reform, and until we do that I will not be funding your top priorities in the budget.’”

Giuliani also says he would use the governor’s constitutional authority to remove a district attorney from office to fire Alvin Bragg, the recently elected chief prosecutor for Manhattan who has implemented highly progressive policies.

As a law-and-order mayor, Rudy was a polarizing figure: revered by the right, who say he succeeded in sharply reducing crime; loathed by the left, who say his police used abusive and racist tactics. But Andrew is running as a 100% Giuliani: tough on crime, no hedging, no apologies.

“See that river right there,” he says, pointing beyond the outdoor deck to the Hudson River below, where several small boats bob on this humid, but not quite hot, early June day. “About 400 years ago, there was a guy named Hudson who came down that river. Since he came down that river, there’s nobody that’s saved more lives in the history of the City or State of New York than Rudy Giuliani. It worked. There’s been a narrative. We’ve been told fantastic lies over the last few years that our police are part of the problem. They are the nucleus to the solution. Until we acknowledge that, we’re going to continue to see crime spiral out of control.”

RELIGIOUS LIBERTIES

Giuliani calls himself “a big believer in religious freedom,” and says these liberties would be highly valued in his administration.

“What we’ve seen over the last couple of years in New York, starting with the pandemic, not allowing ceremonies, like weddings, like funerals, like prayer — to me, this was beyond absurd. And it’s something that would not happen under a Giuliani administration.”

“And as governor, we must fight for [religious freedom]. We must understand that the government does not supersede our religion and our right to practice. It’s the other way around.”

Contrasting himself with incumbent Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul, Giuliani says, “When I look at the current governor, I see somebody who wears a “Vaxed” necklace rather than wear a cross or a Star of David … I find that to be blasphemous.” He calls Hochul’s urging a church audience “to be my apostles” in promoting the COVID-19 vaccine “a deity complex that I think has existed in Albany,” and says, “In a Gov. Giuliani, you’re going to get somebody that understands that I am not the highest power, that I am truly a servant of the people. I am running literally so that way 19.5 million New Yorkers can be my boss.”

Giuliani supports the school-choice movement, calling himself “a big believer in tax credits, in tax vouchers. So that way, if a parent wants to send their child to yeshiva school, to parochial school, or a private school,” they can do so without a crushing financial burden.

“I was very, very blessed to have parents that had the means to send me [to Catholic school],” Giuliani. “But for those kids that don’t have parents that have the means to send them there, it shouldn’t just be up to the public schools and a potential failing school. I would want those high property taxes, and all those tax dollars that we’re spending, that’s frankly going to the teachers union, to be able to go back to parents in the form of a tax credit. That way they can send their child to a yeshiva school. That way they can send them to a parochial school like I went to. We should have the most choice in our education.” The candidate also says he would more than double the statewide cap on charter schools, from its current 460 to over a thousand.

Asked whether government should have the ability to regulate the secular-studies curriculum at private schools, Giuliani replies, “No, absolutely not.”

Elaborating, he says, “I don’t mind if there is correspondence” between the state and private-school officials, but that ultimately, private schools “should have autonomy” to set their own curriculum. 

“I would not want to see any type of mandates, any dictation on that. I would want to see as much independence as possible, and … I certainly would push back against so much of what we’ve seen as the dictates and the mandates.”

The state Board of Regents, an independent body, is currently in the process of formulating regulations for the secular-studies curriculum at private schools, and would have the final say on these matters.

But Giuliani believes the governor can affect these issues as well via the budgeting process. 

“When you look at the budget, there’s a massive amount of influence,” the candidate says. “So I think pushing for those charters, pushing for tax vouchers, pushing for independence in curriculum, is something that you have to set as a priority. And you have to make sure that you meet with the Board of Regents on this stuff and say very simply — as I’ve said before, when it comes to crime with Heastie and Stewart-Cousins — that you need to understand how to use your leverage on all of this stuff.”

Elliott Gordon, an Orthodox Jew who served as a community liaison to Mayor Rudy and is now Jewish liaison to Andrew’s campaign, told Hamodia, “The sensitivity Mayor Giuliani had toward the needs of our community was very special, and Andrew Giuliani is definitely his father’s son.” 

(Rudy was propelled to victory in 1993 and 1997 by strong support from the Orthodox community. The video of young Andrew raising his hand to mimic his father’s taking the oath of office show him standing directly in front of Agudath Israel President Rabbi Moshe Sherer, who delivered an invocation at the inauguration.)

COVID REGULATIONS

Giuliani says that as governor he would scrap Covid mandates.

“I don’t think the governor should be mandating whether or not you should take a shot,” he says. “I don’t think the governor should be mandating masks.”

“There’s more and more data that comes out that people with natural immunity probably don’t need to get this shot. Look, the truth is, I’m not a doctor, and I’m not running to be a doctor. This should be everybody’s individual choice with their family and their doctor. It shouldn’t be mandated from Albany.”

He has also said he would rehire “the fired heroes of the Covid pandemic” — essential workers who later lost their jobs after refusing the vaccine — and pay their lost wages.

Giuliani has not taken the Covid vaccine — saying he has natural immunity from a prior infection — and was therefore barred from attending in-person the Republican gubernatorial debate Monday night at CBS studios in Manhattan, participating remotely instead.

Beyond Covid, Giuliani says that he would seek to restore the religious exemption on vaccines for schoolchildren, which New York lifted in 2019.

TRUMP

Donald Trump has alleged that the 2020 election, in which he was defeated by Joe Biden, was fraudulent, and his most public supporter in the effort to challenge the results was Rudy Giuliani, who served as his attorney.

And what does Andrew Giuliani think of the 2020 election?

“I think President Trump was elected,” he says, adding that he read “over 200 of these affidavits”  alleging irregularities in the election, and that he believes Trump had enough electoral votes to win were it not for questionable or fraudulent ballots in Wisconsin, Michigan, Arizona, Pennsylvania and Georgia.

Asked how he these views might go over with New York voters, the candidate replies, “I think first and foremost, you have to be genuine with voters. I’m not going to go and lie to New Yorkers because a political consultant tells me, ‘Well, it polls this way if you say this, or it polls that way if it’s that.’ Look, I saw it, frankly, with my own two eyes. I saw what the media tried to do on this, which was cover it up and continue to let it go. And I saw the judiciary not have the guts to take it on … We need to confront the truth on this. And until we confront the truth on this, unfortunately, we’re going to continue to see election fraud.”

Trump himself has made no endorsement in the Republican gubernatorial primary.

Asked whether this bothers him, Giuliani replies, “No, not at all,” and that he still speaks to, and receives informal campaign advice, from the former president.

“I speak with him regularly. As you know, we’ve got an event that’s coming up at Bedminster. And I love the fact that he’s been as tuned into what’s going on, giving advice. He’s looking forward to watching these debates …  I’ve known him for over 20 years and worked for him for four years. His advice alone has been masterful.”

The “event at Bedminster” is a Giuliani fundraiser that will be held Wednesday at Trump’s New Jersey golf club, which Giuliani has rented for the evening. Donors will be able to get a photo with Rudy Giuliani and his former police commissioner Bernard Kerik. Trump himself will not be in attendance. 

On the event flyer, the names of the two Giulianis and Kerik are relatively small-sized. The dominant name on the poster, in large lettering in the center, is that of the former president, where it states that the event will be held at “President Donald J. Trump’s” Bedminister golf club. A cursory glance at the poster would lead a reader to erroneously believe Trump himself will attend the fundraiser.

When I ask Giuliani, “Isn’t the flyer a little misleading?” he replies that Trump “designed the flyer. He told us exactly how he wanted it. And we did it.”

‘POP’ SPEAKS

As our interview nears its end, Giuliani’s cellphone rings. 

He looks at the caller ID.

“That’s Pop right there,” he says, but continues speaking with me.

“Answer it!” I urge, happy to have the opportunity to chat with the former mayor, a ubiquitous presence on his son’s campaign trail.

Rudy and Andrew have a quick conversation, as Rudy’s daily radio show is coming up soon. Andrew mentions that he will be doing debate prep, then puts the phone on speaker so that I can have a brief conversation with Rudy.

HAMODIA: It’s Reuvain Borchardt from Hamodia, an Orthodox newspaper in Brooklyn. 

RUDY: Alright! An orthodox newspaper from Brooklyn. I love Orthodox newspapers in Brooklyn!

HAMODIA: Do you want to give me a comment about your son’s gubernatorial race?

RUDY: This position that he’s in, leading, is due to very, very hard work. Nobody paid attention to it, but over a year ago, he started traveling the state. He’s been everywhere at least once, most places two or three times. And as people have gotten to know him, they realize he’s the one hope that we have to really turn this state around. Because he’s the only one who’s independent.

HAMODIA: Does it bother you that President Trump hasn’t made an endorsement in the race?

RUDY: Right now, I know what President Trump thinks of him, and I know how President Trump feels about it, so I’m not worried at all about that. The most important thing for Andrew to do is to have people get to know him for who he is. Everybody knows he’s my son, that he’s learned a lot of good things … about reducing crime from me, that he learned a lot [as] one of the few people that worked all four years for Donald Trump, and has known him for 20 years. He’s learned a great deal from Donald Trump. But the important thing is people have got to get to know him for who he is.

We’re not worried about endorsements. All I worry about is [that] enough people get to see him. Because if they see him, they’re going to vote for him.

HAMODIA: Did you feel threatened by him at your inauguration, when he was doing the gestures better than you were?

RUDY: I’m making no comment about that, because he’s going to try to prevent me, he’s going to do everything he can to prevent me. So I’m going to have to be very, very stealth about my plans. Otherwise he’ll cut me off. Because if he thinks he’s getting away with it, he’s got another thing coming.

ANDREW: I’ll call you after your show. Love you. 

RUDY: Alright. Love you too.


THE RACE

Zeldin, who has the overwhelming support of the Republican Party establishment, had widely been considered the frontrunner in the primary, but a dearth of independent polling had left the state of the race uncertain.

The Giulianis spoke of Andrew as leading the race based on polling by Zogby, the one independent pollster who had released surveys. But Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight.com has in the past called Zogby “the worst pollster in the world.” 

Then, on Monday afternoon (days after our interview), Emerson/PIX11/The Hill released a poll showing Zeldin dominating the race, with a  double-digit lead over the other three candidates, with Giuiani in last place.

Giuliani’s role models may have won high office without holding lower elected positions first, but they were public figures long before — Trump as a real-estate tycoon and media star, who had teased presidential runs in the past, and Rudy an associate U.S. attorney general and then U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, who had run for mayor once previously and lost.

Giuliani — who is seeking to become the youngest New York governor since a 33-year-old Daniel Tompkins in 1807 — is viewed by some critics still as people saw him in 1994: as an inexperienced kid hanging onto his father. If the Emerson poll and the pundits are to be believed, this is not Giuliani’s time.

One Republican insider who is supporting Zeldin told Hamodia, “What has Andrew ever done besides run around with daddy, play golf with Trump, and invite sports teams to the White House?”

But the young candidate points to his work in the recent presidential administration, as well as the youthful accomplishments of some revered figures in our nation’s history, in saying he is up to the task.

“Working four years in the Trump White House, and running a major division like that as I did, I think was instrumental in getting me prepared to be governor of the great State of New York. But I would look also at our history. And I would look at Alexander Hamilton being Washington’s aide-de-camp in the Revolutionary War at 23 years old. I would look at Thomas Jefferson writing the Declaration of Independence at 27,” Giuliani says.

“If we just specifically looked at age and said that somebody was not qualified or somebody was not the right person for this, some of our greatest Americans would not have accomplished the things … necessary to make America the country that it is.

“I know we can change New York, I know that it’s greatest days are ahead of it. And I know I’m the leader that New York needs right now to make sure that we make New York the Empire State again.”

The primary elections for governor will be held June 28. Early voting begins June 18.

rborchardt@hamodia.com

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