SCHENECTADY – Republican gubernatorial candidate Andrew Giuliani’s late afternoon visits to an Italian restaurant and bakery Wednesday weren’t sanctioned by the businesses, their owners said.
Giuliani, 35, of Manhattan, is an ex-White House assistant to former President Donald Trump, and son of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
The election for governor is in November 2022, and a Republican primary to decide the party’s candidate won’t take place until earlier that year.
Giuliani spoke to a handful of patrons of MORE Perreca’s and Perreca’s Bakery on North Jay Street at about 3 p.m.
“I wasn’t aware that Andrew Giuliani stopped in my restaurant,” said Maria Perreca Papa, who co-owns the bakery with her brother.
“Apparently, what happened was a frontman called the bakery this morning, not identifying themselves with the candidate or a political campaign of any kind, just very vaguely said, ‘I have a friend who’s coming to town and I’d like to show him around your business,'” Papa said.
The owner said the worker who answered the phone said they couldn’t visit without the owner’s approval, but the frontman insisted on stopping by to say hello, and the employee didn’t object.
When they arrived, the employees “put two and two together and realized it was a candidate,” the owner said.
Perreca’s has a more than 100-year-old policy of not involving its businesses in politics, Papa said.
“That’s how we ended up ‘hosting’ Andrew Giuliani,” she said, adding she doesn’t like to offer political opinions, “but if I were going to host a political candidate, it wouldn’t be Andrew Giuliani. It would be someone with more traction, to put it diplomatically. I’m at a loss here.”
Permission aside, Giuliani baked bread with bakery patron Jim Friello of Niskayuna.
As Friello ordered a loaf of bread and prosciutto, he was unaware he was standing in line with the gubernatorial candidate.
After introductions, Friello said of Giuliani’s 77-year-old father: “I love that guy.”
“Me too,” the candidate said.
Friello told Giuliani of his concern about New Yorkers moving to less expensive states.
Friello, chief of the Saratoga County chapter of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and a builder, said one of his workers is planning to move to South Carolina.
“He’s gonna save about $18,000 a year just in taxes,” he told the candidate for the governor’s mansion. “He’s looking at $300,000 homes to buy, which are probably around $400,000, $450,000 here.”
The younger Giuliani said he was visiting the city – and targeted an Italian bakery – after promising he would come to all 62 New York counties within the first month of announcing his bid for governor.
Earlier, he had breakfast in Washington County at Ye Old Fort Diner with Albany Republican mayoral candidate Alicia Purdy and Colonie Republican Town Board candidate Alexandra Velella.
The objective of the meeting with Purdy and Velella was “to figure out how we can win races in 2021,” he said.
“Because the truth is, I’m just sick and tired of hearing conversations like I heard before, which is people are leaving New York because you’re not incentivized to be here,” Giuliani said.
“I know we can turn it around, starting in 2021, and I know where we can really turn it around is on Nov. 8, 2022.”
His 3 p.m. visit to the bakery made for a quieter time to talk to residents.
“It’s still nice to talk to a few constituents about some of the concerns up here.”
After buying cannolis for himself and two campaign aides, Giuliani spoke to a reporter outside the businesses. He said he’s learning New Yorkers want a candidate who is going to focus and realize the center of the state is not New York City.
“The center, the capital of New York is Albany, it’s the surrounding Capital Region, and the focus has to be on economic development, not just on Wall Street, but it’s got to be truly in the 62 counties of New York – everywhere from the north county to Erie County to the southern tier to the Capital Region.”
He said his 30,000-foot view of Schenectady and Schenectady County was that they, like other communities and regions, would benefit from deregulation.
“I know Perreca’s has been around for over 100 years, so they’ve been able to be successful. But I think, a business like that could be even more successful, or other businesses that are trying to create jobs, would be more successful if you have a governor who’s less focused on over-regulation and is more focused on cutting the red tape.”
Giuliani said New York can cut taxes to remain competitive with the likes of Florida, Texas and Tennessee, rather than contending with a high-tax state like California.
“I’m not naive,” he said. “I understand that that’s going to ultimately take, working with a legislature that right now, are two super majorities against me. But I do know, at least from an economic development standpoint, on Day 1, we can look at small businesses, we can figure out ways which we can responsibly cut red tape, deregulate to allow them to create more jobs in Schenectady and other communities around New York.”
Giuliani said he views the counsel of his father as an advantage:
“I look at his work that he did in New York City in the ’90s, and I think it’s a great template, not just for me, but I think it’s for anybody who wants to be a successful public official.
“Just look at the data: In 1990, there were over 2,000 murders in New York. By the time he left office, it was under 600. Ten years after he left office, it was under 300. And it was because of the policies that he put forth.
“He is a tremendous asset to any candidate, so for him to be an adviser with me, to be able to talk with him about how he sees New York State and how we need to revitalize – it’s been great because he’s dealt with some tremendous challenges in the early ’90s in New York City at a time where people were leaving New York City, where they thought New York was ungovernable. Sounds pretty familiar to right now, just more on a statewide level.”
Under Trump, he served as a special assistant to the president and associate director of the Office of Public Liaison.
“The paycheck protection program – I was one of the people to quarterback that from the White House, along with the secretary of Treasury and the president to make sure we build that up.
“The CARES Act – we got that funding through our office. We basically were dealing with public policy, but with the private sector. And that’s kind of the focus that I would have coming in as governor. I would really focus on the business leaders of New York state, helping us craft the public policy to make sure that we can start bringing businesses back in New York. We want to incentivize bringing businesses and allowing jobs to flourish here, not in South Carolina, as Jim had mentioned before.”
To whether his affiliation with the former polarizing leader would help or hurt the campaign, Giuliani said:
“Basically I need to be genuine with New Yorkers. I mean, I worked for years in the administration. I’m proud of a lot of the policies that were put forth.
“Some of the reasons why we had the lowest unemployment since man walked on the moon is because of some of the regulatory policy that President Trump put forward.”