Tuesday was the six-month anniversary of the Capitol insurrection, in which Lee Zeldin, the First District House representative, played a major role. It is an indication of Trumpism’s tragic grip on the Republican Party that Mr. Zeldin could be considered the presumptive nominee in a bid for governor of the State of New York.
Mr. Zeldin was a leading proponent of the Big Lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen in favor of Joe Biden. It is possible he believed it — contrary to all facts and even the assertion by the Trump Justice Department that there was no evidence of meaningful election fraud. In December, Attorney General William Barr dropped a bombshell that on any sane planet would have put an end to the president’s claim. “To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election,” Mr. Barr said. If it gave Mr. Zeldin a moment’s hesitation, that certainly was not evident on Jan. 6, when he spoke on the House floor in favor of overturning the election and then voted against certifying the result.
What drives Mr. Zeldin can only be speculated. Raw ambition for power would be bad enough, but it might be far worse: that he really believes in the Trumpists’ vision of a racist authoritarian form of government. Whatever Mr. Zeldin’s private motivations, his public positions have no place on the ballot of any self-respecting major political party. And New York does not need a Trump acolyte in the Governor’s Mansion.