SCHENECTADY COUNTY – Schenectady County Republican Committee Chairman Chris Koetzle has endorsed Congressman Lee Zeldin of Long Island for the Republican nomination to run for governor in 2022.
Koetzle, who is also Glenville town supervisor, on Wednesday confirmed an announcement from the Zeldin for NY campaign, making him the first Capital Region party chairman to announce their support for one of several candidates interested in the GOP nomination to run next year, whether Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo seeks re-election or another Democrat is the candidate.
“Lee and I have been in discussions for while now,” Koetzle said. “I’ve know Lee for while. We need someone (as governor) who is going to protect home rule in this state, and we’ve been moving away from that. Lee would make an excellent governor, and Lee and I share a philosophy.”
“Home rule” is the concept that decisions about governing should be made primarily at the local level, with town supervisors and town boards having primary authority over how towns are run. Some local officials, including Koetzle, have complained that the state tax cap advocated by Cuomo and state mandates have undermined the “home rule” concept.
Koetzle said he first got to know Zeldin, who represents Long Island’s First Congressional District, during advocacy trips to Washington on behalf of the Association of Towns of New York State.
With Cuomo plagued by a variety of scandals and criticisms as he contemplates seeking a fourth four-year term, the jockeying for the Republican nomination has started unusually early. Last week, the state Republican Committee met with some potential candidates, including Zeldin, former Westchester County executive Rob Astorino, and Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro. Astorino ran for governor in 2014, and Molinaro was the party standard-bearer in 2018.
North Country Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, who has not discouraged speculation that she might be a candidate, was unable to attend the committee meeting last week.
“Stefanik is a fantastic congresswoman and would do well in anything she sets out to do, but she never reached out to me,” Koetzle said.
Both Zeldin and Stefanik are aligned with the Republicans who strongly supported former President Donald Trump. Both voted against accepting the election results confirming President Joe Biden’s victory on Jan. 6, backing instead Trump’s contention — for which there is no evidence — that the election was stolen from him.
In a statement released through the Zeldin campaign, Koetzle said: “New York is headed in the wrong direction. Single-party rule in Albany has led to higher taxes, higher crime rates, and droves of residents having to leave their families and sell their homes. Today I am proud to endorse Lee Zeldin for governor. Lee has a plan to cut taxes, protect our communities, support our police, get our children back to school, and more, to save our state.”
To date, the Suffolk, Nassau, Monroe, Ontario, Tioga, Madison, Oneida, and Broome county Republican chairs have also endorsed Zeldin.
Zeldin, 41, a Long Island native, is a graduate of the University at Albany and Albany Law School. He is an Army veteran of Iraq who was elected to the state Senate from Suffolk County in 2010 and to the House of Representatives in 2014.