Andrew Giuliani, the son of former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani and a political descendant of former US president Donald Trump, formally joined the family business on Tuesday by declaring his candidacy to become governor of New York state.
Giuliani, 35, seeks to unseat Andrew Cuomo, 63, a three-term Democrat and son of another three-term governor — who has become weakened by scandals related to alleged sexual harassment and his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Yet to do so Giuliani will first have to win the Republican party primary, where he will face more seasoned candidates, including Lee Zeldin, the 41-year-old US congressman from Long Island who is regarded as the current frontrunner.
Giuliani will also be burdened by the scandals of his father, who was once beloved in New York City for his response to the September 11 2001 terror attacks but has since become widely reviled for his ardent support of Trump and his attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election with dubious claims of fraud.
“It complicates matters a bit for Zeldin, but I don’t see a base of support for Andrew — certainly not downstate, where his father is loathed where he used to be revered,” said Ken Frydman, a New York communications strategist, who once advised Rudy Giuliani.
In private, other strategists steeped in New York politics took a dim view of Giuliani’s chances. One said discontent with Cuomo had created an opening for Republicans, but dismissed Giuliani’s candidacy as “the clownification of American politics”.
In a series of interviews, Giuliani said he would roll back planned tax increases on the wealthy and companies, and that he would staunchly support the police. He also held tight to Trump, whom he served in the White House as a public liaison officer, dealing with professional athletes and other celebrity guests.
“I am not going to run away from who I am and what I’ve done. I worked for four years in the Trump White House,” Giuliani told the New York Post. “Record low unemployment. The Trump White House was excellent in getting Americans to work and into successful careers. I will do that for New York.”
He also predicted that a showdown with Cuomo, who has not yet announced his intention to run for a fourth term next year, would be “the fight of the century”.
Giuliani has had a complicated relationship with his father after his parents split in an ugly and public divorce. He has previously spoken of how Trump, a golf partner, helped to mend the rift.
As the son of a world-famous mayor, Giuliani grew up under the spotlight. His exuberant appearance as a 7-year-old beside his father during Rudy’s inauguration — practically taking over the podium — became fodder for a popular skit by the late comedian Chris Farley. His litigious exit from the Duke University golf team, involving an apple allegedly tossed at a teammate, was also amply chronicled.
Fully grown, Giuliani returned to the political stage late last month with a full-throated defence of his father. It came after federal agents searched Rudy’s office and apartment as part of an investigation into his dealings with Ukrainian figures. The elder Giuliani had repeatedly visited the country in recent years, seeking dirt on Joe Biden, who defeated Trump in the 2020 election.
“I am speaking as a son and a concerned American,” Giuliani told reporters at the time outside his father’s Manhattan home. “Anybody, any American, whether you are red or blue, should be extremely disturbed by what happened here today, by the continued politicisation of the justice department. This is disgusting. This is absolutely absurd.”