Watch: Republican candidates for New York governor spar in primary debate


Former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, far left, businessman Harry Wilson, second from left, Suffolk County Congressman Lee Zeldin, second from right, and Andrew Giuliani, far right, son of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, face off during New York's Republican gubernatorial debate at the studios of CBS2 TV, Monday, June 13, 2022, in New York. Giuliani participated via virtual broadcast after he was blocked from the studios for not meeting vaccine requirements. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

The four Republican candidates for governor in New York squared off in their first debate Monday night on CBS2 TV. And it wasn’t long before they were hurling attacks and challenging each other’s records.

Long Island Rep. Lee Zeldin is considered the front-runner to the GOP nomination. But he went on the attack early and often. He sparred with opponents Harry Wilson and Rob Astorino over everything from gun control to Albany budgets. But things really got heated when Wilson claimed Zeldin once asked him to run for a different statewide office on the Republican ticket. 

“I never asked and I wouldn’t ask Never Trumper Harry Wilson,” Zeldin said. 

“Yes you did. January 12th you did, I’ve got the notes from that conversation. Don’t lie,” Wilson countered. 

“OK, that is a zero percent chance,” Zeldin said. 

The fourth Republican candidate is Andrew Giuliani, son of Rudy Giuliani and a former aide to President Donald Trump. He participated remotely because he’s not vaccinated against COVID-19 and CBS barred him from entering its facility. 

The candidates took questions on gun control and the Capitol insurrection and even their favorite smell. Astorino is the former Westchester County executive. He said he wants to discuss scaling back the state’s abortion law, which allows the procedure at any point if the health of the mother is in danger. 

 “I think we should have a reasonable discussion on when it’s appropriate to have restrictions,” Astorino said.

The primary election for governor is set for June 28. On the Democratic side, Governor Kathy Hochul is squaring off against New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and Long Island Congressman Tom Suozzi.