New York Republicans have an energetic four-way primary for governor, offering a range of personalities and policies and political realities. The clear standout, whom the Daily News proudly endorses, is businessman Harry Wilson. Based on his stellar track record in saving troubled businesses, including restructuring General Motors on behalf of the federal government after Detroit went belly up in 2009, Reagan Republican Wilson could be a good, perhaps great, governor.
And unlike the rest of the field, he could actually win in November, even in Democratic-heavy New York.
This is Wilson’s second run for public office. In 2010, he was the GOP’s pick for state comptroller and we, along with our crosstown competitors at the Times and the Post (ideological opposites) backed him, a rare trifecta for a challenger that hadn’t occurred since the three of us lined up for Pat Moynihan in 1976. Wilson ran 30 points ahead of the top of his ticket, led by the horrendous Carl Paladino, and almost prevailed. With whip-smart, even-keeled Wilson on the top spot this time, Republicans could have their first win since the days of George Pataki.
Like Pataki, Wilson is from Westchester, a critical county that in November a GOP contender must do well in. A first-generation American whose family came from Greece (namesake grandpa Harilaos Dedousis became Harry Wilson through Ellis Island Americanization), he grew up in little Johnstown, about an hour northwest of Albany, where he became a lifelong gun owner (well, starting from age 8), albeit one who supports keeping firearms from criminals and the deranged.
Also like Pataki, Wilson is not a social crusader against abortion, an issue that could sink the other Republicans in the race, especially with the Supreme Court on the brink of reversing Roe v. Wade. Wilson wants to clear the rot out of Albany, cut taxes and give cops and prosecutors the tools to fight crime. He’s a pragmatist through and through.
Lee Zeldin, the Suffolk County congressman who is the favorite of party bosses, served four years in the state Senate and eight years in Washington, but his veer towards the Trumpist right repels us and will weigh him down in the fall. Former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino is cut from similar ideological cloth as Wilson, but doesn’t have his turnaround expertise. The fourth candidate is Andrew Giuliani, a young man who spent four years in the Trump White House and has a good golf game.
Go with Wilson.