Faced with declining voter registration and stiff competition from Democrats, New York's Republican Party is trying to avoid a costly gubernatorial primary ahead of the general election in the state, according to a Republican candidate for governor.
On June 28, the party conducted a straw poll that positioned U.S Representative Lee Zeldin as the forerunner, rallying support from most of the Republican County chairs. While he acquired 85% of the votes, it does not automatically make him the nominee.
Other declared candidates plan to continue their bids for governor all the way to the primary.
In an exclusive interview for LPO, Queens resident and Republican candidate for New York state governor Derrick Gibson said he believes his "chances are great. I am doing a grassroot campaign, going out to the people, directly to the communities."
"In New York, what they are doing is allowing the county leaders to pick the person to push and that is Lee Zeldin. He just came in about two or three months ago. And he is a congressman, he has name recognition and they jumped on board with him without listening to the other five candidates in the race. They were pushing so we didn't have a primary," Gibson said.
Like other candidates, Gibson said he does not need the support of the GOP to win the primary.
"The primary of the Republican Party is weak. I don't look for them to help me at all. They are the establishment, and I am a Republican, but I am not establishment, I am for the people," he said. "I want my message to carry me, so no I am not looking for support from the GOP."
As a Christian African-American that grew up in the south with six siblings, Gibson is firmly against defunding the police.
"It is totally nonsense to defund the police. It has intimidated the police to not to do their jobs and it emboldens criminals. The police is not the problem. As a black man, I can tell you that. It is the justice system that is corrupt, it is a two-tiered justice system. We are fighting to reform the justice system, but criminals will not get a pass," he said.
"With crime so high in New York City and New York state, I would bring the National Guard to work alongside the state police and other police departments that want to clean crime up. We are going to get people to start respecting law enforcement again," Gibson added.
As a man that rides the train every day, he says he understands the people of New York and can reach both independent and minority voter.
"I think I will win the entire Hispanic population, especially in the city of New York. They are afraid of socialism and communism, because their parents and fore parents escaped those places and they want someone to stand up, that can stand up to those policies that are coming from the liberal Democratic party. I am that guy."
When it comes to immigration, Gibson takes a hardline stand.
"We have 500,000 illegal aliens, probably a million, since the border has been wide open," he said. "We have to cut all of that out. Our budget is $212 billion. There is no way we need a budget that big. We have so many illegal aliens. That is something that has to go."
Having been on the campaign trail for over a year, he has been a fierce critic of Governor Andrew Cuomo's Covid-19 response strategy.
"Andrew Cuomo did a terrible job handling the pandemic, he made decisions that were not good for the people, along with decisions with closing all the businesses down, sending patients back to the nursing homes, I don't think he handled it well. It was a complete mess."
Although Gibson is an avid supporter of former President Donald Trump, he said he hoped that Trump would remain uninvolved in politics in New York - his home state.
"In the state of New York, Trump needs to stay on the sideline. I love President Trump, I support him, but he needs to stay on the sideline in New York, we have to win on our own," he said.
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