Former New York congressman Lee Zeldin is reportedly considering a run for Senate.
“We’ll keep an eye on the race,” Zeldin said while at the state Capitol on Monday to visit with lawmakers. “If we did run, it would be an extremely competitive race.”
The former Long Island congressman received nearly 47 percent of the vote against Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) last November, the best performance by a Republican gubernatorial candidate in the solidly-blue state in two decades.
Gillibrand is running for her third term in the Senate next year. The Democrat has even launched a fundraising campaign on the possibility Zeldin may enter the race.
“It was something that I was giving no thought to, but she was trying to fundraise. And the best way to fundraise in the first quarter of 2023 was to speak about a viable opponent,” Zeldin said in an interview before joining former presidential advisor Kellyanne Conway at a dinner for the New York State Federation of Republican Women near Albany.
Zeldin said his main focus right now is helping out candidates for local office this year “who helped us during last year’s race.” He’s spent recent weeks traveling the state to campaign with the candidates “and that’s where the focus will remain” for the moment.
“We’ll see how the race shapes up,” he said of the possibility of challenging Gillibrand. But he acknowledged that “there’s even more of a Democratic-favored turnout” in a presidential election year than in a midterm like the one in which he led the GOP ticket in 2022.
Earlier this week, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s spokesperson told reporters the “Squad” member would not be challenging Gillibrand for the Senate seat in the next election.
Lauren Hitt, Ocasio-Cortez’s spokesperson, told Politico Sunday that the representative will not throw her hat into the ring in 2024.
“She is not planning to run for Senate in 2024,” Hitt said. “She is not planning to primary [Kirsten] Gillibrand.”
Last month, Zeldin publicly endorsed Donald Trump for president despite previously calling for a “robust” primary field.
“The GOP is filled with amazing talent to save our country from the failed policies of the Biden Admin. Our nominee in 2024 will be the 45th & 47th POTUS, Donald Trump,” he wrote.
“Our economy will be stronger, our streets will be safer, & our lives will be freer. He has my full support!”