Republican gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin launched a search for a lieutenant governor candidate on Wednesday ahead of the expected June GOP primary.
Zeldin's search panel will be led by Staten Island Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, the Republican nominee for New York City mayor in 2017.
The formation of the search committee comes months before Zeldin is expected to face primary competition in June. At the moment, Republicans Rob Astorino, Andrew Giuliani, Derrick Gibson and Mike Carpinelli are also seeking the nomination.
“We must restore a balance of power in Albany, both geographic and political, and the diversity of this committee underscores that in a Zeldin Administration everyone will have a seat at the table," Zeldin said. "I have the utmost confidence that the incredibly qualified members of this committee will bring expertise from each of their unique walks of life to put forward the best choice to join me on the ticket in 2022.”
Additional members of the committee include Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay, state Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt, New York City Councilman Joe Borelli, state GOP Vice Chairman John Burnett, Binghamton Mayor Rich David and former state Attorney General Dennis Vacco.
Selecting a running mate is no guarantee that would be the final ticket in the fall: The candidates for governor and lieutenant governor run separately in party primaries.
But Zeldin's decision to move ahead with the search also comes as Republican leaders in the state have coalesced around his candidacy. He has picked up the vast majority of the GOP committtee chairs at the county level, and was declared the "presumptive" nominee by State Republican Committee Chairman Nick Langworthy.