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Doubting Lee Zeldin

Wed, 06/15/2022 - 12:18


If Lee Zeldin ends up with the most votes in June 28’s Republican primary, but then appears a long shot to prevail over the Democratic nominee, we have to wonder if he will bring his conspiracy mania to the governor’s race. If he ultimately loses in November to Gov. Kathy Hochul or some other candidate, will he attempt to throw New York’s entire election system into doubt?

This is a very real risk — Mr. Zeldin was among the members of Congress who early on adopted the obviously false claims about Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election. And he continued pushing the imaginary claim — known to be baseless then — after the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. As is being better understood every day since the insurrection, Jan. 6 was not a spontaneous attack. Rather, it was one that federal, state, and local law enforcement saw coming. Sadly for the people who died as a result of the violence and for those whose lives were altered, politically appointed officials in the Trump administration refused to act on the consistent warnings of a far-right uprising and the expectation of violence.

It is also becoming clearer that the former president himself must have known that his wild stories about election fraud were untrue and that he was repeating lies. Mr. Zeldin — a former military lawyer, former New York State senator, and four-term congressman — bought into this fantasy. It is almost unthinkable that an attorney, and one who had chosen a career as an elected leader, could reject the wisdom of courts from across the country that found baseless the argument that the election was stolen.

Yet, Mr. Zeldin either believed it, which is highly unlikely, or cynically adopted the lies for political ends, which is worse. That he knowingly sought to violate the Constitution of the United States, a foundational document that he had multiple times sworn to uphold, raises serious concerns about how far he would go to subvert democracy here in his home state in a race to be its governor.


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