We thought business turnaround expert Harry Wilson was terrific when he ran for state comptroller a dozen years ago. So did the Times and the Post, the first time that the three papers endorsed a statewide challenger since we all backed Pat Moynihan’s first Senate run in 1976. Wilson lost narrowly in 2010, but he had the best showing of any statewide Republican since George Pataki’s final gubernatorial victory in 2002. Now, Wilson is aiming for governor himself and putting in millions of his own fortune.
We welcome this intelligent, pragmatic, not-at-all-Trumpified Republican into the race and hope he drags the field toward the sensible center. Already in the pool in advance of next week’s GOP state convention are Long Island Rep. Lee Zeldin, ex-Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino and Andrew Giuliani, son of a certain mayor and former White House aide to a certain president.
The GOP should want to prevail in November. That will mean winning over Democrats and independents in a state where Republicans are outnumbered by those other two categories more than three to one. We aren’t endorsing Wilson or any of the contenders; we are supporting a vigorous debate leading up to the June primary.
The Democrats are having their own debate, with city Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and Congressman Tom Suozzi both challenging Gov. Hochul, the former from the left and the latter from the right. The competition will make whoever emerges stronger.
His party rivals will likely call Wilson a RINO for working for President Obama or giving a contribution to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. But Wilson’s Obama job was running the highly successful American auto industry rescue. Did they oppose that? As for Bragg, they were college acquaintances; Wilson’s $1,000 contribution was a full year before the divisive DA primary.
Wilson is a fixer of businesses. His present task is seeing if he can fix an out-of-touch state GOP. He’s not a salesman, like a certain former New York Republican, now of Florida, but it will be up to rank-and-file voters to decide if they are buying.