Republican gubernatorial hopeful Rep. Lee Zeldin (D-Suffolk) promised on Monday that he would launch an “expedited” process to remove controversial Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg on “Day One” if elected governor this November.
“[There’s] going to be an expedited process where we already have enough facts in front of us that he is refusing to enforce the law and I believe he should be removed and I believe that it is my constitutional duty to get it done,” Zeldin said Monday morning at GOP headquarters in Albany.
Polling, fundraising and endorsements suggest Zeldin has an edge in the June 28 GOP primary over former White House staffer Andrew Giuliani, businessman Harry Wilson and former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino.
All four candidates have called for Bragg to be removed from office, including Wilson, who previously donated to Bragg’s campaign for DA.
This agreement among the GOP candidates suggests Bragg’s goose will be cooked no matter who the standard-bearer is in a year when Republicans are hoping to win their first statewide election in two decades.
State law gives governors leeway to remove officials like a DA, clerks or sheriffs though they first have to follow a process that includes appointing an investigator, holding a hearing and formally notifying the state Department of State.
Such formalities would be difficult to complete within hours of taking office on Jan. 1, 2023 though Zeldin said Monday he would move as fast as he could to get rid of Bragg.
“Listen, I can’t say exactly how long that entire process is going to take although it’s going to be very expedited. We already have the facts in front of us to remove him and it will be my first act after getting sworn into office – firing Alvin Bragg,” Zeldin said Monday.
Bragg did not respond to a request for comment Monday.
The DA attracted criticism from Republicans and some Democrats, after instructing Manhattan prosecutors to avoid arresting people or seek prison sentences for a variety of crimes with exceptions for some serious offenses like homicide, sex crimes and public corruption.
Zeldin and others have likened the move to a dereliction of duty as an elected official.
While he later walked back some of the changes – including instructing prosecutors to get tougher on robberies committed with a knife – his critics have continued to push for his ouster.
Governor Kathy Hochul said she cut him “some slack” after supposedly warning after previously saying she supposedly put him on notice in his first weeks in office.
Zeldin, who was recently endorsed by the Post Editorial Board, declined to say exactly how long he thinks it will take to remove Bragg from office though he expressed confidence Monday that it will happen if he gets elected governor this fall.
“it will be moving quickly and at the end of it, he will no longer be the district attorney,” Zeldin said of Bragg.