Nicholas Goldberg: What makes Rudy Giuliani’s son think that he is qualified to be governor of New York?

What does it say about the state of our democracy that Andrew Giuliani – once a professional golfer, Trump factotum and son of the man formerly known as “Mayor of America” ​​- could conceivably become the Republican candidate for governor of New York?

I wrote about the young Giuliani as nonsense a year ago, shortly after announcing that he would run the GOP primaries on June 28th. I described it as an “empty dress” in a column on unskilled candidates. It honestly never occurred to me that he would be taken seriously.

But then I woke up one recent morning to the news that a poll had raised it by five points with just one month to go, ahead of the best-funded, four-term congressman who was approved by the state’s GOP organization and other top candidates. True, there have also been polls showing the closest run, but I’m still in shock – how can this even be in the realm of the possible?

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Nicholas Goldberg

Nicholas Goldberg worked for 11 years as the editor of the editorial page and is a former editor of the Op-Ed page and the Sunday Opinion section.

Giuliani’s resume is as subtle as wallpaper. So skinny that he continues to boast his college honors over his own Giuliani for the Governor’s website. And his post-graduate internships. And she notes that she has been playing professional golf for seven years.

This is how he got the attention of his father’s old friend, Donald Trump.

Andrew Giuliani and Trump have been golfing buddies ever since; and in 2017 the president offered Giuliani what appears to have been his first real job: in the White House. His main responsibility, it seems, was to serve as a liaison with visiting sports teams. Then (“after having dinner at Mar-A-Lago with Rudy Giuliani”, according to Asio), Trump gave his son the title of “special assistant to the president”.

Giuliani claims on his website that as a staff member he helped Trump “craft politics,” including 2017 tax cuts. But a former White House reporter I spoke to told me Andrew was simply a “sycophant” , a guy Trump loved to play golf with. The reporter added: “I don’t remember him ever being involved in anything serious.”

Now, having never run for mayor, lawmaker, city council or school board, 36-year-old Giuliani is vying to lead a state government with several hundred thousand employees and an annual budget of more than $ 200 billion.

It is highly unlikely that Giuliani will become governor. For a start, he may very well not win the primary. And even if he does, he’ll probably lose him in November. The last time a Republican was elected governor of New York was in 2002. The path isn’t easy for a candidate who pokes fun at the left and socialists, masks mandates, the AOC and President Biden. (“Does he even know he’s president of the United States?” The Washington Post quoted Giuliani as sayingechoing his golf partner.)

But it’s not impossible either. Not these days.

So how is it possible that a nobody like Giuliani has a chance to win?

Nepotism, of course!

Being the son of a well-known politician like Rudy Giuliani obviously grants you jobs, contacts, access to donors, a first introduction to the business – all things Andrew Giuliani means when he says that being a politician is “in my DNA”.

But there is more.

It has long been known to scholars – and certainly to political strategists – that recognition of the name (known by some as “brand advantage) gives politicians a “substantial electoral advantage,” as a study concluded. Furthermore, research has shown that this benefit can be passed on from parents to their children and other relatives. If your name is George Bush just like your father was, or if you share the Kennedy surname with your better-known uncles, aunts and cousins, you actually inherit some of their political advantages.

How come? Well, the most charitable analysis is that it is a “heuristic” for voters trying to decide among candidates. In the absence of information about the candidates’ program or political plans, people look for shortcuts. Voters choose could based on a candidate’s party affiliation or ethnic origin. Or because they recognize a family surname: I liked JFK and RFK; I guess I will probably like their brother Teddy or even their nephew Patrick as well.

(This has also worked well for people who sharing famous names by accident – an unrelated Al Gore, for example, won a Democratic primary running for the United States Senate in Mississippi In 2010; lost in the general election.)

The least charitable explanation for brand advantage in politics is that people vote blindly and lazily for names they recognize. It’s sad, but apparently true. It has to do with what is known in social psychology as “mere exposure effect“Or the” principle of familiarity “. In other words, if I recognize your name, I’m more likely to vote for you even if I don’t know anything about you.

Familiarity apparently does not generate contempt.

An interesting wrinkle here is that Andrew Giuliani is looking to take advantage of a tarnished brand. His father, Rudy – Andrew’s only real connection to voters – is best known these days for his dark mascara, his press conference near the sex shop, his maneuvers in Ukraine, the FBI raid on home. and in the office and his lies about the 2020 election that for his glory days as mayor of New York City.

But maybe it’s just me. Maybe Republicans still love Rudy Giuliani for all the reasons I can’t stand him.

Ultimately, the question is whether New Yorkers want to put the naive and inexperienced son of their former mayor into a Very serious work, very powerful – a job that pushed four occupants (two Roosevelts among them) to the presidency.

Obviously everyone has the right to apply, including Andrea Giuliani. But not everyone has the right to be taken seriously.

@Nick_Goldberg

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