NEW YORK (AP) – After 2020, Rudy Giuliani is not someone most politicians would call to hold a news conference on their behalf.
As the frontman of former President Donald Trump’s false claims of election fraud, Giuliani made infamous appearances in front of cameras, where he professed unfounded theories – once doing the impression of actor Joe Pesci, who masquerades as hair dye. Black streaks that appeared in one ran across his face—and another outside the Philadelphia Landscaping Company. Last week, his unsupported allegations and the fallout of those claims became the focus of a House committee hearing investigating the January 6, 2021 riots at the US Capitol.
But one place the former New York City mayor is in great demand these days is on the campaign for his son Andrew Giuliani, who is expected to be the Republican nominee for governor of New York on Tuesday.
The campaign is considered a long shot, with preferred US Representative Lee Zeldin as the Republican frontrunner with support from the state’s GOP and Conservative Party. And in an otherwise favorable year for Republicans, Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul is expected to win office in November.
New York is one of the most depressed states in the country, where Democrats have more than twice as many registered voters as Republicans and have occupied the governor’s mansion for 15 years. It is also a state where – outside Republican voters – the only name less popular than “Trump” may be “Giuliani.”
Andrew Giuliani often mentions both names.
The 36-year-old worked as an aide to Trump’s White House and as a commentator on the conservative network Newsmax, but has never held an elected position before.
Before starting his campaign, he was primarily known for appearing as a child next to his father at his 1994 mayoral inauguration. He imitated his father’s gestures and repeated his words and movements, which were parodied on “Saturday Night Live” by Chris Farley.
As he campaigns for governor, the younger Giuliani still appears to be imitating his father. He not only shares some of his mannerisms, but often uses his appearances to make false claims about the 2020 presidential election, including falsely saying that Trump won the election.
Andrew Giuliani has also been accused of omitting his first name somewhat explicitly on his website and campaign materials, perhaps to give the impression among Republicans that his father may be the candidate.
Responding to criticism during a debate on Newsmax, Giuliani said, “People will say, with a famous surname, it is easier to run in politics.”
“I’ll tell you with a name like Andrew, it’s very difficult to be the leading candidate for governor in a Republican primary,” quipped Andrew Giuliani, referring to the former three-term New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat who resigned in disgrace last year amid allegations of sexual assault.
Andrew Giuliani said he was very proud of his father and called him “New York’s greatest crime fighter”.
Before he was known on television as a Trump advocate describing baseless international election plots, Rudy Giuliani was considered a national hero for leading New York City in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
He had been an American lawyer in New York famous for prosecuting Mafia figures and later a Republican mayor known for dealing with crime with his “broken windows” theory of policing. The philosophy included preventing serious crime by cracking down on petty crimes such as public urination or window-washers known as “squeezing men”.
Critics said the doctrine was not effective and minorities were targeted, but in his campaign, Andrew Giuliani has called for the return of “broken windows” policing “around New York State”.
Andrew Giuliani often appears with his father at news conferences, rallies and other campaign events, both standing behind a stage or in the back of a truck decorated with a “Giuliani” sign. Often they wear a red Giuliani campaign cap – a design that evokes Trump’s famous “Make America Great Again” hat.
Rudy Giuliani tries to reassure people that his son’s experience includes seeing his father serve as mayor.
“It’s true that he was a kid during most of my tenure, but I don’t know. Do you consider a 15-, 16-, 17-year-old a kid? He worked things out with me while I was there, Giuliani said at a news conference on Thursday. “In many of those situations, your candidate Andrew Giuliani has helped me. He’s known this back and forth since he was a kid.”
In New York, the support of a political party and its apparatus matters in most cases. Zeldin, with his resume and widespread support on the right, is expected to win Tuesday, said Thomas Doherty, a political strategist and a former aide to New York’s last Republican governor, George Pataky.
Doherty said Andrew Giuliani has name recognition but a slim resume and is not seen as a serious contender.
Doherty said, “I’m sure whatever vote he gets, he’s getting it in his father’s name.” “There’s nothing wrong with that, except for the fact that there’s nothing on his resume that says ‘I could be the governor of New York’.”
Zeldin made that point during previous GOP debates, referring to Giuliani’s experience in the Trump administration as a “Chick-fil-A runner in the White House outranked by the White House Easter Egg Bunny.”
Outside of his childhood antics at his father’s inauguration, Andrew Giuliani was in the limelight after he sued Duke University in 2008, claiming he was unfairly cut from the golf team. The school said Giuliani’s dismissal was based on bullying behavior, which he denied. His lawsuit was dismissed in 2010.
He worked in Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and then at the Trump White House. He served as an associate director of the Office of Public Relations and later as Special Assistant to the President.
Rudy Giuliani said his son’s “four years with Trump – it’s like five college educations. He’s much better prepared for it.”
The former mayor acknowledged that some would doubt his son and might think he was too young and inexperienced to be governor of a state of about 20 million people.
“You’re taking a chance. You took a chance on me,” the candidate’s father said at Thursday’s news conference. “The chance is worth it because he has that extraordinary spirit, a Teddy Roosevelt kind of spirit.”