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NY Gov. Kathy Hochul Ignores Reality During Debate, Lee Zeldin Calls Her Out on It...Repeatedly

AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

On Tuesday night, Gov. Kathy Hochul (D-NY) met to debate with Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) on the one debate she agreed to, although Zeldin called for several more debates. The debate being hosted by Spectrum News also invited criticism form New Yorkers, as the outlet is unavailable not merely to viewers around the country, but even in New York. The debate was available on YouTube, though, via Fox Business. 


Rep. Zeldin in his opening statement referenced the rising crime in New York, as has been a campaign focus of his. In her opening statement, Gov. Hochul tied crime to gun control, which she would keep doing this throughout the debate. Much of her response on crime also reeked of the same desperation that the governor has had in recent days as the race has been tightening, though it's very much been too little too late, just like the plan she released days before, though she has been governor for over a year. 

Fittingly, the first segment also addressed crime. Even with debate moderator Errol Louis framing the questions in difficult ways, Zeldin stood strong on this issue. This included against Gov. Hochul only being able to associate the issue with gun control. 

"Kathy Hochul believes that the only crimes that are being committed are these crimes with guns," Zeldin called out. He went on to mention the plight of people who have been victims while riding the subways, where there has been a rise in crime. "You have people who are afraid of being pushed in front of oncoming subway cars, they're being stabbed, beaten to death on the street with hammers." He also spoke of the rise in hate crimes against certain populations, instructing to "go talk to the Asian-American community and how it's impacted them with the loss of lives, Jewish people targeted with raw, violent, anti-Semitism on our streets." 

"Wee need to be talking about all these other crimes," Zeldin insisted, "but instead Kathy Hochul's too busy patting herself on thew back, job well done." Zeldin mentioned his idea of how "actually, right now there should be a special session" for the state legislature to "overhaul cashless bail and these other pro-criminal laws with zero tolerance." He also called out how Hochul has asked New Yorkers to elect me before indicating more fully what her own position is. 


Crime would also find its way into the debate when Hochul had a particularly tone-deaf response on the issue. 

Zeldin, hitting Hochul about what issues she cares about, highlighted how "my opponent thinks that right now there's a polio emergency going on, but there's not a crime emergency," adding "the priorities that I'm hearing from people right now are not represented from this governor, who still, to this momebt--what are we halfway through the debate--she still hasn't talked about locking up anyone committing any crimes." Hochul was smirking and shaking her head throughout Zeldin's charge on this. 

Hochul did respond that "anyone who commits a crime under our laws, especially with the changes they made to bail, has consequences." Such is a laughable claim, though, given how in New York City, career repeat offenders have committed an overwhelming amount of the crimes there. Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg, who Zeldin has promised to fire on his first day should he be elected, despite dismissals from Louis and Hochul, has also maintained a soft-on-crime attitude

Most damning of all, especially given how important the crime issue is to New York voters, Hochul added "I don't know why that's so important to you" in turning to Zeldin.

"All I know is that we can do more, we can do more," she claimed, which is another laughable point for Hochul to make, given that she is presently the one in charge of the state. Although he momentarily cut her off, Zeldin let Hochul continue to speak, at which point she sought to place blame elsewhere, clarifying "we could do so much more" if they had more gun control, specifically "teenagers being able to get guns, assault weapons."


Gov. Hochul in her opening statement spoke about the importance of abortion in this election and the distinction between her and Rep. Zeldin, despite how that so-called right is protected in New York State law, even with the U.S. Supreme Court having overturned Roe v. Wade with the Dobbs v. Jackson decision. Under the Dobbs decision, the abortion issue is left up to states, which means states can expand abortion, as New York has done. 

The debate moderators later brought it up on their own. As is typical for pro-abortion Democrats, even and including in states like New York where it is already protected by state law, Gov. Hochul did not properly answer the question on what abortion limits she would support. 

Rep. Zeldin certainly took notice, and called the governor out for it as a "fundamentally disingenuous answer," in which she did not answer a direct question. "That's not a coincidence, and she didn't forget," Zeldin offered. 

Beyond focusing on abortion and tying crime solely to guns, Gov. Hochul connected Zeldin to former President Donald Trump, as she has obsessively done. On the segment of economics, she referred to Zeldin as both an "election denier and climate denier." While discussing COVID responses towards the very end of the debate, she again repeated that Zeldin was both an "election denier and climate denier," and added "COVID denier," as one more way to link her opponent to the former president.

During the round when candidates were allowed to ask each other questions, Hochul asked Zeldin about whether Trump was "a great question." While she tried to force a quick response out of him, interrupting him by demanding "yes or no" as he went on to list the former president's accomplishments, the moderators had to remind her that Zeldin had time to answer. Once Zeldin was finished giving his response, after Hochul finally let him do so, the governor scoffed at his response listing off actual accomplishments. She indicated she would take his answer as a "yes," claiming New Yorkers wouldn't take well to that. 


Hochul, when asked about pay to play concerns, also misrepresented on text messages that Zeldin sent to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. 

Towards the end of the debate, the candidates were asked about their responses to COVID-19. Gov. Hochul took her  time to answer whether or not she would mandate schoolchildren receive their COVID vaccine, after the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) last week added it to their recommended immunization schedule. She did not do so until prompted for her answer by the moderator, and even then gave a very nuanced response that she would "not at this time" mandate such vaccines for this school year already underway. She did leave the door open to mandating vaccines next year, however. 

Rep. Zeldin, on the other hand, who had already indicated emphatically he would not mandate the COVID vaccine, gave a much more direct answer. Distinguishing himself from Hochul's answer about "not at this time," Zeldin declared "let me clear to all the parents who are out there: I will not mandate COVID vaccines for your kids ever." He also spoke out against such mandates at state colleges and university. 

Upon being called out by Zeldin for vaccine mandates, Gov. Hochul tellingly emphasized that she would "do it all over again" when it comes to mandating vaccines for healthcare workers. It's worth mentioning that Tuesday night's debate took place just hours after the New York Supreme Court ruled that state government workers who were fired for refusing the vaccine should be given their jobs back, as well as backpay.

Unbelievably, Gov. Hochul walked right into the nursing home scandal that began with but did not end with her predecessor, former Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY), who resigned in August of last year, allowing her to become governor. She brought up nursing homes all on her own during the COVID discussion, and Rep. Zeldin certainly did not pass up on the opportunity. 


"Where was my opponent with the deadly nursing home order and cover-up," Zeldin demanded to know, also asking "why is it that the numbers on the Department of Health website are still outdated" and "what about the meetings with the COVID families who lost their loved ones who were promised the long overdue COVID investigation and never got it" as well as "why didn't you speak up with regards to the deadly nursing home order and cover-up," "why aren't you looking into the transparency and accountability that these families of thousands of deceased New York families," and "why didn't you stick up for the people who were unable to see their loved ones in their final hours and being denied?"

After asking his litany of questions, Zeldin reminded the governor "you had time after time after time, opportunities to stand up for these families, but you were silent or complicit or out to lunch every time. I don't know what your excuse is, but these families are demanding justice and they will not rest until they get it," Zeldin declared. He offered that "on day one, I will finish what you refuse to start and end."

While Hochul mentioned her talking points to do with abortion, guns, and Trump--who hasn't been in office for almost two years--Zeldin did have his own talking points he kept coming back to. This had to do with crime and the amount of people leaving the state, with New York State experiencing the highest population loss. 

Towards the end of the debate, Zeldin had a particularly powerful moment in which he spoke of "crossroads." Such a response from the congressman was particularly fitting to serve as his closing statement, since the debate did not formally include them. 

When talking about that population loss, something even fact-checkers acknowledged was accurate, Zeldin explained that "New York leads the entire nation in population loss... because their wallets, their safety, their freedom, and the quality of their kids' education are under attack, so they're hitting their breaking point. They're looking to other states, like the Carolinas, Tennessee, Texas, Florida and elsewhere, and they feel like their money will go further, they'll feel safer, and they'll live life freer." 


Zeldin went on to compare 2022 to 1994, when Gov. George Pataki (R-NY), the state's last Republican governor, was first elected. "The state is at a crossroads. We were at a crossroads in 1994, when New York elected George Pataki, and we're at a crossroads right now." Just as he was running out of time, Zeldin went on to explain that "as far as what happens in New York under Kathy Hochul with one-party rule for four more years, outsized power, self-described socialist, we need balance and common sense restored to Albany." 

Towards the end of the debate, gun control was once more discussed. While being confronted with the gun control laws passed thanks to her signature, Gov. Hochul blamed the U.S. Supreme Court for overturning a law in June with the case of New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen on Trump appointees to the Court, despite how such a law was blatantly illegal. In addition to her obsession with gun control, Hochul also revealed her obsession with the former president once more.

Following the debate, Rep. Zeldin released a statement noting Gov. Hochul did not want to debate based on her poor performance that night.

RealClearPolitics (RCP) currently has the race as a "Toss Up," with Hochul up with a +6.1 lead in the polls, though it's worth noting that they don't include a co/efficient poll where Zeldin is slightly up ahead of Hochul, 45.6 percent to her 43.6 percent.


Polls, including one of the more recent ones from Quinnipiac, where Hochul was only up by 4 percentage points, also showed crime as the most important issue to voters. 

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