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Donald Trump has thrown his political weight into New York’s gubernatorial race on Sunday, endorsing Republican House Rep. Lee Zeldin’s bid to unseat Democratic incumbent Gov. Kathy Hochul.

The ex-president called Zeldin ‘great and brilliant’ on his Truth Social app while announcing his support.

Zeldin’s campaign to unseat Hochul in the reliably blue state has gained unprecedented steam in recent weeks, with a new polling average suggesting Hochul’s lead shrunk to roughly 5 percent.

‘I have watched and known Congressman Lee Zeldin for many years. He is a great and brilliant lawyer who was a “must see” for others in Congress when they had a complex legal problem that was holding up legislation,’ Trump wrote on Sunday morning.

‘Lee was strong on the Border, Crime, our great Military & Vets (like few others!), and fought hard to protect our 2nd Amendment, and succeeded.’

He finished enthusiastically: ‘Lee Zeldin is a WINNER who GOT THINGS DONE. He will be a GREAT Governor of New York, and has my Complete & Total Endorsement. GOOD LUCK LEE!’

Donald Trump formally endorsed House Rep. Lee Zeldin's campaign to become governor of New York on Sunday morning

Donald Trump formally endorsed House Rep. Lee Zeldin’s campaign to become governor of New York on Sunday morning

Trump has already hit the campaign trail for Zeldin, holding a September fundraiser in nearby New Jersey

Trump has already hit the campaign trail for Zeldin, holding a September fundraiser in nearby New Jersey

The former president had resisted picking sides in the Empire States’ contentious gubernatorial primary between Zeldin and Andrew Giuliani, the son of his friend and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

But he hit the campaign trail for Zeldin after he won that race – but stopped short of a full endorsement.

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Last month Trump attended a fundraiser on Zeldin’s behalf in neighboring New Jersey. 

That event, held outside of the state Zeldin hopes to run, brought in $1.5 million for his campaign, according to the New York Post. 

The race to be Governor of New York tightened recently as Zeldin closed the gap and made the race a ‘toss-up’ against Hochul. 

A RealClearPolitics average of polls taken between September 30 to October 12 shows Hochul’s lead over Zeldin has dwindled to just 5.3 percent – with 7 percent of voters yet to decide. 

Zeldin, a Republican congressman from Long Island, is edging closer to Democrat incumbent Kathy Hochul in the race for governor in New York (pictured with former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani)

Zeldin, a Republican congressman from Long Island, is edging closer to Democrat incumbent Kathy Hochul in the race for governor in New York (pictured with former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani)

Hochul, who took over when former governor Andrew Cuomo was ousted for claims of sexual harassment, has seen a surge in crime under her administration

Hochul, who took over when former governor Andrew Cuomo was ousted for claims of sexual harassment, has seen a surge in crime under her administration

Zeldin, a US Army veteran and congressman from Long Island, was down by as much as 24 points back in August, and his late surge shows the rising crime in New York may be beneficial to the Republican candidate. 

He is also benefitting from the fact Republicans are more likely to vote, and his supporter base is more enthusiastic than Hochul’s, Lee M. Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, said in a statement. 

‘Although Democratic candidates for governor and U.S. Senate lead in very blue New York, the race for governor still bears watching,’ he added.

Miringoff also said ‘any shift in crime’ is likely to benefit Zeldin as the race comes to a close – and New York City has seen a surge this year. 

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Seizing on the troubling wave, Zeldin promised to fire Manhattan’s District Attorney Alvin Bragg immediately upon entering office. 

Bragg has been widely criticized for his lax attitude towards crime.

Among the 'ultra MAGA' gubernatorial candidates who are close allies of Donald Trump, Arizona's Kari  Lake is seen as among the likeliest to win in November

Among the ‘ultra MAGA’ gubernatorial candidates who are close allies of Donald Trump, Arizona’s Kari  Lake is seen as among the likeliest to win in November 

Polls show the Arizona governor's race as among the most competitive on the ballot this year

Polls show the Arizona governor’s race as among the most competitive on the ballot this year

‘I’m not in this race to come in second. I’m all-in. I’m over 18 months into this race, campaigning all throughout this entire state,’ Zeldin said earlier this month. 

‘One of the reasons why I got into the race was because of these pro-criminal laws that have been getting passed out of Albany,’ he added. 

Hochul has criticized Zeldin for his ties to Trump.

She has also slammed his views on abortion in an attempt to resonate with voters in the historically blue state. The state has not had a Republican governor since 2006. 

The news comes as Democrats around the country are sounding the alarms over Republicans getting closer to snagging seats and governorships. 

Arizona Republican candidate for governor and close Trump ally Kari Lake is locked in a tight race with Arizona’s Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs for governor of the state.

Among the ‘ultra MAGA’ candidates who are close allies of Donald Trump and support his baseless claims that President Joe Biden lost the 2020 election, Lake is seen as among the likeliest to win in November.

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