Former Erie County Executive Joel Giambra thinks he has the solution to solving Republican statewide electoral woes: allow the 2.7 million voters not registered in a party to vote in the GOP primary.
"My proposal to allow for a broader spectrum of people to opine who the best and most attractive candidate is to win in November," Giambra said.
The idea is based on the growing enrollment disadvantage for Republicans statewide. There are now more unenrolled voters in New York than there are Republicans in New York, while Democrats have long enrollment advantage.
Giambra believes the party can be more competitive next year if unaffiliated voters are also allowed to choose the party's gubernatorial candidate in June 2022. Republicans have not held statewide office since Gov. George Pataki concluded his third term in 2006 and are currently shut out of statewide power.
The push to win the Republican nomination is already underway, and Long Island Rep. Lee Zeldin has jumped out to an early start with county committee endorsements and millions of dollars in fundraising.
Fueling the early push in part has been the controversies swirling around Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the potential he may not seek a fourth term next year.
The proposal to partially open next year's Republican primary to those voters not enrolled in a party was quickly shot down by New York Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy in a statement.
"We will not weaken our rules so that Cuomo acolytes can infiltrate our candidate selection process," said Langworthy, who has made winning the governor's office a top priority for New York Republicans.
Giambra is considering a run for governor himself, and called Langworthy's rejection of the semi-open primary disappointing.
"It's very unfortunate the Republican leadership would want to try to win statewide election using the same playbook that they've used for the longest time that's not been successful," he said.
Aside from the enrollment woes, Giambra said the main issue confronting Republicans is former President Donald Trump and his deep unpopularity in New York.
"This is not Alabama. This is New York state -- a very blue state -- that has elected Joe Biden by 1.8 million votes," he said. "So the reality is the Trump favor makes the situation more difficult."