GLENS FALLS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – On Wednesday, New York State Congressman Lee Zeldin sat down for eggs, toast, and conversation with Glens Falls area locals and leaders, to hear about the issues according to the North Country community. One significant topic that the Republican candidate for Governor heard about was the cost of fuel.

“Whether it’s filling up your gas tank, it’s the cost of diesel, it’s filling up your oil tank at home,” Zeldin said outside Poopie DiManno’s Lunch on Lawrence Street on Wednesday morning. “We were talking about the policies coming out of Albany. They’re talking about banning all gas hookups on all new construction statewide. It’s a terrible proposal.”

Zeldin, joined by running mate Alison Esposito, made the visit to speak about issues that affect the whole state, as he campaigns against state Governor Kathy Hochul. The stop was part of a trip that has also included visits to Syracuse, Binghampton and Albany. The plan includes hard two-term limits for state officials; ethics commission reform; changes to state FOIL law, putting new importance on getting accurate information to the media; new voter identification practices; and the assignment of a prosecutor whose responsibility it would be to hold the executive brand of state government accountable for all actions.

Zeldin highlighted the most recent New York State budget, comprising $220 billion, which came after a weeklong delay. He recalled seeing the media’s search for clear answers on when the budget would be approved – answers which he hopes to provide more of a pipeline for in the future.

“We had a situation where the media was following (former Lt. Governor) Brian Benjamin around the halls of the legislative office building, trying to ask him really important questions,” Zeldin described. “They couldn’t get him to just stop and answer the media’s questions.”

The visit to “Poopie’s” in particular was an easy one for Zeldin. Not only did it come with a home-cooked breakfast courtesy of Jerry “Poopie” DiManno, but it gave the Congressman a rare chance to get behind the counter and do some cooking himself.

“We were told that only Jerry is allowed to operate the grill, and didn’t even think we were going to have a shot. Then they let Alison start cooking, and I got a little jealous because I hear that no exceptions were ever made,” Zeldin said. It wasn’t long before the Republican candidate was holding the spatula himself – taking the occasional break to shake a hand over the counter.

Congressman Lee Zeldin flips some corned beef hash at Poopie DiManno’s Lunch in Glens Falls, N.Y., during a visit to talk about his plans as Republican candidate for New York Governor, and to hear about local concerns. (Photo: Jay Petrequin)

Gas wasn’t the only way that energy entered the conversation. Zeldin said he believes that a balance needs to be struck between investment in oil, gas and green energy sources. He pointed to work he has done in his current role as the representative for New York’s first Congressional district, supporting nuclear and particle physics research company Brookhaven National Lab, as well as energy work at Stony Brook University, both of which research alternative energy sources.

“Businesses should always use ways, find ways, to become more energy-efficient,” he said. “There are a lot of homeowners who are always seeking ways to become more efficient, whether it’s with their vehicles, their home appliances, their windows. There are always ways we can go further faster.”

New Lieutenants, same maps

Benjamin was Gov. Hochul’s pick when she stepped into office, following the resignation of former Governor Andrew Cuomo over harassment allegations last summer. Benjamin was arrested and indicted in April under bribery and related charges, and resigned shortly thereafter.

On Tuesday, Congressman Antonio Delgado was named as Benjamin’s replacement in the Lieutenant Governor seat. Zeldin said that he finds Hochul to be complicit in Benjamin’s activity, despite denying any association and standing behind his activities leading up to his arrest.

Last week, a Court of Appeals decision sent the work back to the drawing board in regards to state Democrats’ push for redistricting Congressional district maps. As far as Zeldin is concerned, New York State residents have already made their opinions on the idea known.

“What the legislature did with those maps – which rightfully got tossed – was an insult to the will of New Yorkers. When we passed the Independent Redistricting Commission, it was done with bipartisan support. It was done with support from Republicans, Democrats and Independents.”

Roe V. Wade

This week, a draft majority opinion was published by Politico indicating that the U.S. Supreme Court planned to overturn Roe V. Wade, an action which would effectively eliminate all Federal-level protections for abortion rights, including early- and late-term abortions as well as life-saving operations in cases of unsafe pregnancy. Decisions would now be made by states individually.

In New York, abortion is protected under the 2019 Reproductive Health Act. In response to the Supreme Court news, Gov. Hochul has been vocal about supporting abortion rights, going as far as to invite those in states without abortion access to come and access procedures in New York.

Zeldin says that codified law should be taken as fact. For him, it’s the way in which the news has broken, and public conversation has started, that deserves scrutiny.

“This is not even a final decision. The way the process works, they hear arguments, they have a meeting, they compare notes, they share ideas. You start drafting an opinion, and they might start tweaking the opinion, and then they vote on it, and dissenting views get written. There will always be important, controversial, consequential cases before the Supreme Court, and if we get to the point where you don’t like the decision and you start leaking out drafts before they’re finalized, it’s going to deeply erode the institution.”