Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin received the "Total & Complete Endorsement" of former President Donald Trump on Sunday in the race for governor of New York.
Trump, in a post on his social media website Truth Social, wrote that Zeldin is "a great and brilliant lawyer" and holds strong positions on the military, veterans, crime and the border.
"Lee Zeldin is a winner who got things done," Trump wrote in the post.
The endorsement from Trump is not wholly a surprise. Zeldin's campaign has held at least one fundraiser at Trump's New Jersey resort. Zeldin has not said directly if he would campaign with the former president who remains broadly unpopular in New York, but retains loyalty with the Republican base in the state and nationally.
Trump did not issue an endorsement during the four-candidate Republican primary for governor.
Gov. Kathy Hochul's campaign in a statement knocked the endorsement, calling it a sign Zeldin is out of step with most voters.
“With an endorsement from Trump himself, Lee Zeldin now has a formal stamp of approval as the most extreme and dangerous candidate to ever run for governor in New York State history,” said spokesman Jerrel Harvey. “While Trump’s endorsement doesn't come as a surprise, becoming the former president’s handpicked choice for governor proves Zeldin’s full embrace of the MAGA agenda and shows just how out of touch he is with New York voters.”
Hochul, seeking a full term this year, led Zeldin among registered voters in a Marist College poll released last week by 10 percentage points. The lead shrinks to 8 percentage points among voters who definitely expect to cast ballots.
The first round of early voting in New York is set to begin next week.