US Rep. Zeldin Comes Out Swinging Against Gov. Hochul in the Candidates’ Only Debate

US Rep. Zeldin Comes Out Swinging Against Gov. Hochul in the Candidates’ Only Debate

By Yehudit Garmaise

Gov. Kathy Hochul and US Rep Lee Zeldin took part in a fiery debate on Tuesday night: just four days before New Yorkers start heading to their polling places.

Presenting his vision as a candidate who provides an alternative to New Yorkers swho “are tired of soaring crime, DAs who let violent criminals out on the streets to roam free, crushing taxes, and sky-rocketing costs to feed your families and heat your homes,” Zeldin came out swinging tonight with the fire of the underdog who has a shot at victory on Election Day on Nov. 8.

“Nice to see you, too, as well,” said Gov. Hochul graciously, as she stayed calm, cool, and collected, as her Republican challenger pulled out all the stops as he relentlessly questioned her leadership and blue-state assumptions.

While keeping her voice steady, low, and measured, Gov. Hochul defended her record, while at the same time, seeming a bit surprised to be on the defensive after enjoying a comfortable lead in surveys until recently.

The governor promoted her efforts toward providing public safety, “by getting more and more legal guns off the streets.

Gov. Hochul’s two main arguments against Zeldin were that he “was one of Donald Trump’s strongest and most loyal supporters and that he failed to show up to a vote on the House floor to ban assault weapons.

“[Zeldin] helped [Trump] on Jan. 6 by overturning an election. [Zeldin] sent text messages trying to orchestrate, “the big lie [that Trump really won the election], and [Zeldin] opposes sensible gun safety laws.”

Zeldin, who has said, if elected, he would immediately suspend bail reform, was asked, whether he would still overturn the controversial law if statistics turn out to show that recidivism rates have only increased by 1% since 2019, before bail reform was enacted.

New York’s Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) has claimed that the rate of re-arrests of criminals who were out on bail before bail reform was 19%, but only increased to 20% in 2021.

DCJS maintains the state’s DNA database and the missing persons’ clearinghouse.

“Would you make policy, despite the [DCJS]’s findings?” Zeldin was asked.

“The will of the people is that they want to see reform,” the Republican candidate responded. “Even Mayor Adams says that judges should have discretion to weigh perpetrators’ dangerousness.

“I don’t think that two Mexican cartel drug smugglers who are busted with $1.2 million of crystal meth should be instantly released on cashless bail.

“Kathy Hochul supports cashless bail. As soon as it was implemented, she was out there bragging about it.”

Under great political pressure, Gov. Hochul somewhat scaled back bail reform over the summer, however, the basic structure of the law remains largely in place.

“You can work on keeping people scared, or you can focus on keeping them safe,” responded Gov. Hochul, who said she adjusted bail reform in the state budget.

“Our budget was nine days late because I insisted on common sense changes [to bail reform],” said Gov. Hochul. “There is no crime-fighting plan if it doesn’t include guns.

“You didn’t even show up for a vote in Washington, DC, when a bipartisan group of enlightened legislators voted for an assault weapon ban.

“We lost another child and a teacher in St. Louis because people were not able to support what I did in New York, which was a ban on assault weapons for teenagers.

“It is about getting the guns off the streets.”

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