Millionaire GOP businessman Harry Wilson announced his bid for governor Tuesday, vowing to fix a pandemic-ravaged New York with the same skills he’s used to save reeling corporations.
“I’m running for governor to turn around New York,” Wilson said in a tweet.
“Our state is totally broken. Rising crime, sky-high taxes, closed schools, corrupt politicians. I’ve spent my career turning around failing organizations. Let’s get this done.”
The Post reported last month that Wilson, 50, the son of Greek immigrants, narrowly lost the 2010 race for state comptroller to Tom DiNapoli and was seriously weighing a run for governor.
“I’m running for governor because I cannot sit by while New York is devastated by career politicians,” Wilson said in a campaign video.
He vowed to undo the hikes in corporate taxes and income taxes on wealthy residents approved by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Democrat-controlled state Legislature last year.
Democrat Kathy Hochul, the former lieutenant governor who became governor last August after Cuomo resigned in a sexual harassment scandal, maintained the $4 billion in tax increases in her $216 billion executive budget plan.
“It won’t be easy. The politicians will fight me. They want businesses as usual,” Wilson said.
Wilson was dinged before he even entered the race. The Post reported that he donated money to Democrat Alvin Bragg’s successful campaign for Manhattan district attorney, drawing fire from Republicans.
Bragg has been roundly criticized for telling assistant DAs to downgrade or not prosecute certain criminal offenses during a crime wave.
Wilson has since disavowed his support for Bragg and backs firing elected prosecutors who don’t enforce the law.
He appears to be running as this generation’s Mike Bloomberg, the billionaire businessman who served three terms as New York City mayor following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Wilson’s skill set could meet the moment, as New York is still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. New York City in particular has yet to recover the loss of tens of thousands of jobs that vanished during the two-year pandemic, backers note.
He is chairman and CEO of the MAEVA Group and is known as an expert in corporate restructurings and turnarounds.
Wilson personally knows the impact of COVID-19 on the economy, including the battered health care sector. Last year, he stepped in to serve as temporary CEO of Genesis Health Care, the nation’s largest skilled nursing provider, to help save the company.
But his moderate brand of politics will be tested in a polarizing and partisan age.
He served on Democratic President Barack Obama’s Auto Restructuring Task Force after the recession of 2008.
That could turn off Republican backers of former President Donald Trump in a GOP primary.
Wilson also is a late entry to the race, which could serve as a handicap despite his resume and personal resources to launch his campaign. The state Republican Party will hold its nominating convention next Monday and Tuesday.
Three other candidates have been running for some time.
Long Island Congressman Lee Zeldin has the backing of nearly the entire Republican and Conservative Party leadership and will almost certainly be voted the GOP’s choice at next week’s convention.
Former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino and Andrew Giuliani, the son of former Mayor Rudy Giuliani who served as a Trump White House aide, are also seeking the GOP nomination.
Wilson will likely need to collect signatures of Republican voters to petition to get on the primary ballot.
Wilson was born and raised in upstate Johnstown. He earned degrees from Harvard University and Harvard Business School.
Early in his career, he worked for Wall Street giants including Goldman Sachs and the Blackstone Group.
Wilson, a Scarsdale resident, considered running for governor against then-incumbent Andrew Cuomo in 2018 but ultimately declined, citing family obligations. He has four daughters.
On the Democratic Party side, Hochul holds a commanding lead over city Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and Long Island Rep. Tom Suozzi to secure the nomination, recent polls show.