Former Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin (NY-1) said at the American Conservative Union’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) that Republicans didn’t earn the “red wave” forecasted by many prior to the 2022 midterms.
On a panel discussing the election’s outcomes, Zeldin slammed the modern Republican Party’s longtime strategy of courting the suburbs and rural areas – while ceding the inner cities and deep blue states to Democrats.
“When your high paid political consultant tells you not to go to a heavily Democratic area, that’s exactly where we need to show up and earn the support of these Democrats. We cannot relinquish the cities, we cannot relinquish the suburbs,” he said.
The path to a roaring GOP victory in 2024, Zeldin says, is refusing to relinquish “anything” to the Democrats.
“We cannot relinquish anything to the Democrats and if we’re on offense confidently, that will be the path for us to earn a red wave. Because in 2022, we did not earn a red wave nationally. In ‘24, we must [earn a red wave] to save America,” he added.
The former representative also said that the conservative movement should hone in on minorities by offering solutions for key issues such as crime, which was the Zeldin campaign’s leading issue in 2022.
“These Democrats are unhappy with the Democratic policies and the Democratic Party as a whole, but they aren’t going to just swing to the Republicans on their own. It’s a bad assumption that we are making. Instead, what we need to do is to show up over and over and over again,” he explained.
Tweeting a clip of his remarks at CPAC in Washington, D.C., Zeldin wrote, “Red waves don’t show up simply by messaging what you are against.”
Republicans didn’t earn a red wave nationally in ‘22, and we need to understand why to best prepare for ‘24.
Red waves won’t show up simply by messaging what you are against ("Joe Biden bad", "Democratic Party bad") but instead by exceptionally communicating what you stand FOR. pic.twitter.com/EjwmX8IcFS
— Lee Zeldin (@leezeldin) March 4, 2023
Another issue Zeldin believes is affecting the Republican Party’s operation in blue states is ballot harvesting.
Zeldin tweeted in November that states should reject ballot harvesting proposals, but in states where it is legal, Republicans need to abuse the system like the Democrats do.
Wherever they propose ballot harvesting, totally oppose it.
Wherever they pass ballot harvesting, do it so much better than them that they deeply regret ever passing it in the first place.
— Lee Zeldin (@leezeldin) December 1, 2022
Zeldin put up a valiant fight in deep blue New York in the state’s 2022 gubernatorial election, exceeding pollsters’ expectations despite losing by 6.2%.