Joe Pinion, a former anchor with the cable channel Newsmax, knows his long-shot bid for the U.S. Senate would be history making as the first Black man to represent New York in the U.S. Senate.
But that's not how Pinion is framing his candidacy.
"The hard truth is I now stand here as the Republican nominee," he said. "But I stand here first and foremost as an American."
New York Republicans are backing Pinion to take on Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer this fall. Pinion's candidacy is part of a broader effort by the GOP to appeal to a wider swath of voters.
Pinion's bid for the U.S. Senate received overwhelming support from New York Republicans Monday at the state convention over rival candidate Alexander Mici, who has staked his own candidacy on his life story as an Albanian immigrant.
Despite falling short, Mici plans to move forward with his campaign after failing to reach the 25% threshold for automatic ballot access.
"I believe very strongly in my campaign and I believe I have a mission to move forward with my campaign even if I don’t reach 25%," he said.
Pinion and Mici are two faces New York Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy hopes to present to voters this year in a bid to diversify the party.
"We are going to make this party look like New York," Langworthy said. "There’s a lot of stereotypes out there that Republicans only have a narrow focus. That’s dead wrong. We have diverse candidates. We are appealing to every voter in New York."
That's also reflected by the backing of Paul Rodriguez for state comptroller, challenging incumbent Democrat Tom DiNapoli. Rodriguez, who is of Puerto Rican heritage, would be the first Latino elected to the job overseeing the state pension fund.
"I've lived a life to know what it's like to struggle and get ahead," Rodriguez said. "Right now the people of New York are really struggling Taxes are high, the cost of living is high. It's really tough to make ends meet."
Pinion wants to tackle issues like poverty and education in New York — two issues that have typically been strong suits for Democrats.
"All of these issues are not partisan," he said. "We need to actually in many ways re-address and re-orient what we prioritize in our politics if it’s ever going to become the vehicle we meant it to be, which is bring people together."
But he faces a challenge in his bid to unseat Schumer. First elected in 1998, Schumer is one of the country's most powerful lawmakers and has been handily re-elected every six years.
"We’re planning on hopping in the vehicle and going to every nook and cranny of this state," Pinion said, "to go into communities that Republicans have not gone into and frankly Democrats have only shown up in a week before Election Day."
Schumer meanwhile is fighting to retain Democratic control in the U.S. Senate this year, where Democrats hold the advantage thanks to Vice President Kamala Harris's tie-breaking vote.