Republican candidate for governor Lee Zeldin on Wednesday selected New York City Police Department Deputy Inspector Alison Esposito as his preferred candidate for lieutenant governor as he seeks to further deepen his campaign's public safety push heading into next week's state GOP convention.
Zeldin, at an announcement unveiling Esposito as his running mate in New York City outside of One Police Plaza, said her decision to run for lieutenant governor is "bad news for the criminals who think these streets belong to them."
The announcement comes as public safety issues have come to the forefront for candidates for statewide office this year. Republicans have called for changes to New York's cashless bail law which largely ended the requirement for many criminal charges.
A Siena College poll this week found 91% of voters polled believe crime and public safety is a serious or very serious concern, and a majority of voters are supportive of adding a "dangerousness" standard for judges to determine whether a person charged with a crime should be remanded to a local jail. Democratic leaders in the state Legislature have called the proposal a potential to discriminate against people of color charged with crimes, but not convicted.
Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi, who is challenging Gov. Kathy Hochul in a Democratic primary for governor, has also called for changes, as has Mayor Eric Adams in New York City.
Still, Republicans are calling for strengthened public safety provisions this year amid a spike in violent crimes in New York and across the country.
Esposito's bid for lieutenant governor makes her the latest candidate for the job. Suozzi last week selected former New York City Councilmember Diana Reyna as his preferred running mate.
"I will fight for the future of our state, the future of my niece and nephews and the future of all New York's children," Esposito said.
Candidates for governor and lieutenant governor run separately in party primaries and the winners are later joined on a ticket in the general election. Mismatches can occur, most recentely in 2010 when then-GOP nominee for governor Carl Paladino was paired with rival Rick Lazio's preferred candidate for lieutenant governor, Chautauqua County Executive Greg Edwards.
The GOP field for governor in recent days has grown in the days leading up to the Republican convention even as Zeldin has locked up endorsements from county leaders in the party.
Zeldin faces former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, former Trump administration official Andrew Giuliani and businessman Harry Wilson for the Republican nomination.