MAGA lunacy is not just rampant in Red States. Republican Party candidate Lee Zeldin is bringing his version to the New York race for governor. Trailing by 17% in the latest Siena College Poll but closer in others, Zeldin is moving consistently to the right.
Zeldin brags that while in Congress he led the fight to end COVID mandates and he praised the Supreme Court decision overturning reproductive freedom. His campaign material conveniently leaves out that he supported Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated claim that the 2020 Presidential election was stolen and he voted not to certify the result.
Zeldin presents himself as a staunch defender of Jews and Israel but his record is troubling. He panders to Orthodox communities with an anti-science stance in opposition to vaccination for their children against deadly diseases and pledges to protect their right to trap illiterate children in religious cults. As a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and co-chair of the House Republican Israel Caucus, Zeldin championed the annexation of Israeli occupied territories and promoted divisive Israel politicians like former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who he called a “strong & effective leader, friend & ally of the United States.” While Zeldin condemns Russia’s war against Ukraine, his friend Netanyahu is a consistent supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s dictatorial and militaristic regime. Zeldin’s proclaimed “ally of the United States” has pushed Israel to refrain from condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine and supporting the U.S. led alliance to stop Russian aggression. Zeldin now calls Vladimir Putin “pure evil,” but he has always excused Donald Trump for his “bromance” with Putin.
Zeldin is not very careful about the people he considers friends and supporters. In 2018, Sebastian Gorka, a former Trump official with ties to Hungarian anti-Semitic groups headlined a Zeldin fundraiser. Gorka was also an editor with Breibart News, a fake news source popular with alt-right anti-Semitic groups in the United States. Zeldin voted to allow Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene to remain on the House education and labor and budget committees despite Greene’s association with white nationalists and anti-Semitic groups including Holocaust deniers. Actually this is not that surprising. Zeldin spoke speech at a meeting of the Long Island chapter of the Oath Keepers, a group whose leadership has been indicted for its role in the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the nation’s Capitol.
While Zeldin claims he will be tough on crime, he refuses to support efforts to limit access to guns. His major proposed solution seems to be to put mentally ill people in prison. At a time when the global faces a climate catastrophe, Zeldin wants to increase natural gas production and legalize “fracking” in New York State as a jobs program. According to the New York League of Conservation Voters, Zeldin has the worst record on environmental issues of anyone in the New York congressional delegation. Zeldin is a long-time opponent of abortion who protested against New York’s Reproductive Health Act of 2019 and promises he would appoint an anti-abortion health commissioner.
To rally the right, Zeldin’s campaign has made grievances about schools a primary issue. Zeldin wants to muzzle teachers and blindfold students by banning “divisive concepts” from being taught in schools, restricting sex education, eviscerating public education by lifting the cap on poorly regulated charter schools and allowing tax credits so children can attend private and religious schools, and allowing religious schools to ignore secular curriculum requirements. In an op-ed for Fox News, Zeldin objected to lessons that affirm student backgrounds and acknowledge the role of racism in American history. He also objected to the state’s focus on civics education that would empower students to be “agents of change.” Instead, civics lessons should “teach students about how and why they get to live in the greatest nation in the history of the world.” Zeldin has been actively campaigning in Orthodox and Hasidic Jewish communities where he promises to end investigations that have confirmed that students are graduating from their schools illiterate in English and math.
If you oppose public education and reproductive freedom, if you want more unregistered guns flooding the state, if you don’t care about the environment and the future of the planet, if you want propaganda instead of education in our school curriculum, if you ignore the science behind vaccines, if you coddle up with white nationalists and anti-Semites, and if you want a Governor who was prepared to overturn democracy in the United States to advance his candidate for President, Lee Zeldin is your man.
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