Republican gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin received a surprising endorsement Monday from a Brooklyn political club known for backing Democrats, including former Mayor Bill de Blasio.
According to club president John Orlando, the Bensonhurst-based New Era Democrats backed Zeldin because “there has to be a change” in Albany.
“It’s for our own safety.” It is all about our children. “It’s about being allowed to live here,” Orlando told reporters at a press conference in Brooklyn with the Republican congressman from Long Island.
Orlando asserted that Governor Hochul “doesn’t see what’s in front of her” when it comes to crime-fighting and that Zeldin would do a better job keeping New Yorkers safe.
Zeldin, one of former President Donald Trump’s most ardent supporters in Congress, believes the club’s backing demonstrates that New Yorkers are dissatisfied with Democratic leadership.
“A lot of New Yorkers are in this city right now who recognize that this is it,” Zeldin remarked.
“They’re thinking about leaving this city, this state, if we don’t win this race,” Zeldin added.
The group’s backing for Zeldin contrasts with its previous endorsement record.
For his 2013 mayoral campaign, De Blasio won the New Era Democrats’ endorsement, during which he positioned himself as a fierce progressive alternative to ex-Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
On its main home page, the group’s website still has a photo of de Blasio. De Blasio also received the club’s “founder’s award” in 2005, while he was a member of the City Council, according to the website.
However, Zeldin is not the first Republican to receive support from the New Era Democrats.
In the 1990s, the organization, which included former Republican state Sen. Marty Golden, endorsed Rudy Giuliani for mayor and George Pataki for governor, respectively.
De Blasio did not respond to a request for comment Monday, and neither did Hochul’s spokesman, widely regarded as the frontrunner in New York’s governor race on November 8.
When asked how he justifies sponsoring a conservative like Zeldin considering the club’s history of supporting Democrats, Orlando responded that the club has never been wholly devoted to one party.
He explained, “We’ve always been self-sufficient.”
“We have to seize the present moment,” he added.