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Could Lee Zeldin run against Senator Kirsten Gillibrand? Democrats bracing for that challenge

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s campaign team is bracing for a potential challenge from former U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin, a Long Island Republican who recently ran a competitive race for governor. In a fundraising email sent to prospective supporters on Wednesday, Gillibrand’s campaign team stated that Zeldin “very nearly won the New York governorship in the 2022 midterms, all while New York Republicans had their best election cycle in two decades — flipping enough House seats red to retake the majority.”

However, Governor Kathy Hochul, who defeated Zeldin by around six percentage points or 317,000 votes in the election, has rejected the idea that she “very nearly won.” The last time a Republican defeated an incumbent Democrat in a New York gubernatorial race was in 1994, when George E. Pataki defeated Mario M. Cuomo.

Zeldin’s campaign reportedly saw high turnout from the state’s Republican base, while Democrats voted at relatively low rates, particularly in New York City. State Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs has refuted the characterization, stating “data demonstrates that we did not underperform.”

Gillibrand’s campaign team, which recently launched her 2024 reelection bid, pointed to remarks from Zeldin aimed at the senator. In a tweet, Zeldin responded to a statement from Gillibrand saying she would beat him if he ran against her with “Tough talk from New York’s laziest and most forgettable senator in generations.”

Despite the social media jabs, Republican sources close to Zeldin said there are ongoing discussions within the party about a potential Senate run against Gillibrand next year. Gillibrand has focused her recent legislative efforts on stopping the flow of illegal firearms and overhauling the U.S. military’s handling of sexual assault cases.

Gillibrand’s campaign team stated that she will not accept funding from corporate political action committees, and is instead focusing on grassroots fundraising to “defeat right-wing Republicans like Zeldin and keep her must-win seat blue.” A Republican has not held a U.S. Senate seat in New York since Al D’Amato, who served from 1981 to 1998. The state has not had both U.S. Senate seats held by Republicans since 1976.Regenerate response