The eldest Giuliani, wearing a bright red Giuliani Governor 2022 hat and riding in a van adorned with his son’s smiling face, was making his 10th stop last week. He “tweaked the pierogies” at a Polish festival in Syracuse and ate a plate of trash in Rochesteroften on joint visits with her son.
His stops were a mixture of nostalgia, encounters and fights with journalists. Many events have come with questions about his role advising Trump in the run-up to the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol. This has led to an election campaign debate that is as much about Rudy Giuliani as it is about his son’s gubernatorial bid.
The tour, however, seems to have gone according to plan. It gave Andrew Giuliani’s message a steady stream of headlines as Republicans make their final decisions about who to vote for.
In an election that will likely be characterized by low turnout and a crowded field, that might be enough. There was already evidence that family ties could help: the Giuliani name made Andrew the most popular of the four GOP gubernatorial candidates, a Siena College poll found this month.
This is despite his campaign spending a fraction of what his haters have on TV ads. He was severely underfunded against businessman Harry Wilson, former Westchester County executive Rob Astorino and Long Island Rep. Lee Zeldin, the Republican establishment favorite. Zeldin and Wilson will likely end up outspending Andrew Giuliani by at least a 10-to-1 margin; they each spent around $8 million from a month agowhile candidate Giuliani had spent less than $500,000.
And he also struggles to gain approval from elected officials who can increase turnout at rallies to get out of the vote. Zeldin has a commanding lead on this front, with Astorino being the only other contender with respectable institutional backing.
His father, mayor of New York from 1994 to 2001, is obviously the most notable exception to this. He has been a constant presence on his son’s campaign since its launch, but has increased his visibility when the time is right.
And Andrew Giuliani, who worked as Trump’s White House adviser, isn’t shy about defending his father’s legacy as mayor and as a staunch ally of Trump, making him a double.
“I’m very proud of my name,” Andrew Giuliani said during a debate on Tuesday. “People would say well, with a famous last name, it’s easy to run in politics. I would tell you that with a name like Andrew, it is very difficult to be the first candidate for governor in a Republican primary.
Democrat Andrew Cuomo has won New York’s last three gubernatorial elections. After stepping down amid the scandal last summer, he was replaced by Kathy Hochul, the frontrunner in the Democratic gubernatorial primary also being held on Tuesday.
As local media shift their focus more to the primaries, they have had to divide their attention between 10 major party candidates vying for governor or lieutenant governor — and a slew of state assemblies and downvoting contests.
But Rudy Giuliani’s stops have given the campaign earned media in places where former New York City mayors who held top White House posts aren’t exactly regular visitors, communities like Watertown, Binghamton, Utica and Syracuse.
This gave his son an attack dog who is guaranteed to attract attention in a crowded field.
“He’s not a real person,” said Rudy Giuliani, tearing up Zeldin in Albany. “He’s a fictional politician, a man of clay.”
While Andrew Giuliani has been visiting every corner of the state regularly since last summer, this is the first time his 78-year-old father has spent much time campaigning in the North Bronx since running for the Senate against Hillary. Clinton in 2000. He eventually gave up that race after receiving treatment for prostate cancer.
“The places I’ve been…many of them have pictures of when I was there in the past,” he said. “It’s nothing new to me, but I haven’t [campaign] with the intensity that occurs in the last two weeks of a campaign.
Rudy Giuliani’s role in national politics has changed dramatically many times – since his run in 2000, since he was known as mayor of the United States in the aftermath of 9/11 and since his failed run for president in 2008.
When he ran for the US Senate 22 years ago, he was hammered with questions about his split from then-wife Donna Hanover, mother of Andrew Giuliani.
Now he’s being hammered with questions about the growing allegations over the last few months of the Trump administration. A congressional committee is investigating Giuliani’s role in activities that include pressuring state lawmakers to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.
One topic that came up repeatedly throughout the upstate tour is an allegation by two Trump confidants that Giuliani was drunk when he urged the then-president to declare victory on election night. He denies this claim, saying he sticks to Diet Pepsi.
But it has led to several press conferences that are far from typical of a gubernatorial campaign.
“You made terrible defamatory comments about me. You’re suggesting I’m a criminal, you’re suggesting I’m intoxicated,” he said as reporters in Buffalo shouted questions at him earlier this month. “Is your fanaticism, is your hatred for Trump so great…you can’t let me get the last part of a sentence out?”
Coming to his father’s defense, Andrew Giuliani stepped in to reprimand the reporters’ attention: “What about the $5 gas price? What about the fact that crime is on the rise here? You are accomplices of the Democratic Party.
And interactions like this across New York have meant that not all of his tour coverage has been brilliant.
“He was barred from practicing law for his false allegations of voter fraud and was featured by a congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot as the chief architect of the illegal efforts to quash the 2020 presidential election won by Joe Biden,” began The Buffalo News. his writing of the press conference. “None of this is stopping Rudy Giuliani from trying to help his son become Governor of New York.”
But it’s far from clear whether such coverage could reduce Andrew’s chances of causing an upset next week. Turnout may well be limited to the most loyal Republicans, and it’s a safe bet that a good portion of them share the same views on the Trump administration and its end as the Giulianis.
“I don’t think it matters much,” Rudy Giuliani told Albany of being at the center of stump attacks. “January 6 is important because something like this shouldn’t happen. People shouldn’t storm the capitols for any reason, but again, the people who control the capitol shouldn’t use it for political purposes, and that’s what they’ve been using ever since first day.
The father’s stops also had their share of blunders. On Wednesday, he repeatedly said that next week’s primary would be in January and he confused the Capitol uprising with the 9/11 attacks.
To bolster his argument that the Capitol attacks were portrayed unfairly, he pointed to the finding that a police officer who died of a stroke shortly after the attack died of natural causes — but has then distorted the events.
“The first story was that four cops were killed during 9/11,” Giuliani said. “No cops were killed during 9/11, not a single one.”
Sixty New York City and Port Authority police officers died in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.