Andrew Giuliani was holding a silver spoon. He just was. There’s no getting around it. Sitting in a booth at Mansion Diner on 86th and York—about a thousand feet from both of the homes in which he was raised (his mother’s apartment and Gracie Mansion)—he poured a thimble-sized packet of whole milk into his third cup of coffee and used the symbolically charged but otherwise ordinary instrument to stir. “New York means something to everybody,” he said. “It evokes a reaction.”
Ten days earlier, the Son of Rudy had announced his campaign for governor on the grounds that New York needs a Giuliani restoration to recover from the other dynastic Andrew—and that he can achieve it by scaling his father’s blueprint for the city of the ’90s to address the needs of the state in the ’20s. “I think the name Giuliani evokes a reaction in most people too,” he said.
If the reaction most people had throughout the witching era of the last presidency was the thought What happened to Rudy?, then these early days of post-Trump Trumpian politics are animated, at least in New York and Palm Beach and certain parts of New Jersey, by a related concern: What the fuck is Andrew doing? As one person close to Trump put it, “That’s a question that a lot of people who genuinely like Andrew and genuinely like the mayor are asking.”
It’s rich, a Trump associate suggesting another candidate’s pursuit of office is ridiculous. A country may not be the sum of its elected officials, but a party is no more nor less than its nominees, making Giuliani’s run a test of what unqualified means to the Republican electorate now. Giuliani, who is 35, spent his early childhood on the Upper East Side and attended prep school in a tony Jersey suburb and college in North Carolina. Fully a third of his official campaign biography is devoted to his good grades at Duke (where he majored in sociology), a few internships in finance and real estate, his time as a “surrogate relations” volunteer on the Trump campaign, and his marriage. He cites as qualifying work experience his stint as a pro golfer; the four years he spent in the Trump administration, where he served in the Office of Public Liaison and as a special assistant to the president; and the seven weeks he was a pundit on Newsmax TV before he quit to join the gubernatorial race.
But he does have the last name. And a maga-ish slogan: “Bring Back, New York!” The biggest problem for Giuliani is that the maga candidate had already been anointed by the time he entered the race. Lee Zeldin, the representative from New York’s First Congressional District, who announced his run in April, was well-liked in Trumpworld even before he committed the greatest official act of obedience by objecting to the certification of the 2020 election results. The second-biggest problem is that Giuliani appears to have miscalculated the value of his relationship with the ex-president.
Giuliani told me that, over a few conversations, Trump expressed support for the idea of a run. “He said, ‘Giuliani vs. Cuomo— that’s a heavyweight fight. You’d sell out the Garden with that,’” Giuliani said. Trump, though, is not happy with what his former aide has been telling the press. “The president did not encourage him to run. They had a friendly conversation, he likes him, but he did not tell him to run,” the person close to Trump said. “His appreciation and high regard for Rudy is probably impacting his decision to respond or not respond to slightly inaccurate claims made by Andrew.”
And then there’s the problem of the party. Republicans haven’t won a statewide race since 2002, but Governor Andrew Cuomo is newly vulnerable. “It seems like a very foolish expenditure to have a primary which will do nothing but drag candidates as far to the right as they can get,” Nick Langworthy, the state Republican Party chairman, told me. He doesn’t want to blow this because of a pesky democratic process that pits Giuliani, Zeldin, and former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, who has also entered the race, against one another. Such infighting may allow Cuomo to escape with a fourth term in 2022. “It’s a waste of donor funds and candidate energy fighting amongst ourselves when we could be focused on November.”
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