Democratic New York Gov. Kathy Hochul debated Republican challenger Rep. Lee Zeldin Tuesday night in New York City as each candidate spent a majority of their time discussing crime, and specifically how they plan to keep New York residents safe.
During the debate, each candidate pointed out the flaws of their opponent with Zeldin accusing Hochul of taking money from large corporations in exchange for favors while Hochul accused Zeldin of only using rhetoric instead of policies to accomplish any change. The candidates debated the economy, abortions, crime and jobs, yet each new topic continually found its way back to crime, effectively overshadowing the other points that were debated.
“You ask the will of the people? They want to see reform,” said Zeldin at the start of the debate. “We need to repeal cashless bail. We need to repeal the HALT act, amend Raise the Age and Less is More. We need to make our streets safe again. I am running to take back our streets and to support unapologetically our men and women in law enforcement.”
Hochul, who assumed office in 2021 after former Gov. Andrew Cuomo resigned, received backlash during her year as governor for strict COVID-19 policies and crime initiatives like cashless bail, which became the subject of much of Tuesday’s debate. Zeldin, who has represented New York’s 1st Congressional District since 2015, has spent a majority of his campaign highlighting what he believes to be a loss of rights by New York residents while also pointing fingers at Hochul’s crime policies.
As the candidates debated, Zeldin asserted his goal of removing New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg for not enforcing the law and Hochul pushed for strict gun control. Zeldin accused Hochul of defending Bragg and giving him more power, while Hochul accused Zeldin of refusing to work in a bipartisan manner to reform gun laws.
“There is no crime fighting plan if it doesn’t include guns, illegal guns, and you refuse to talk about how we can do so much more. You didn’t even show up for votes in Washington when a bipartisan group of enlightened legislators voted for an assault weapon ban. We lost another child and teacher yesterday day in St. Louis because people won’t support what I was able to get done here in New York. ” Hochul said.
Zeldin came back at Hochul by pointing out his belief that her solution to crime is limited in scope. “Unfortunately Kathy Hochul believes that the only crimes being committed are crimes with guns. You have people that are afraid of being pushed in front of oncoming subway cars. They are being stabbed, beaten to death with hammers on the streets,” he said.
Throughout the debate Hochul called out Zeldin for his role in the events of Jan. 6, allegedly spreading the “big lie” that the election was stolen. Zeldin refuted her claims and stated, “It’s about looking forwards not backwards. Election integrity should always matter. I believe we should have Voter ID in our state. I believe we should have Voter ID in all 50 States. I oppose ballot harvesting. I believe we have a principle of one person one vote and that is a principle that belongs to a United State citizen.”
Hochul retorted that his statement equated that he would not vote to certify the election if given the chance again.
The debate, which took place a month after absentee ballots went out in New York, is the only scheduled debate between the candidates before the Nov. 8 midterm election, sparking Zeldin to call Hochul a “coward” for refusing to have multiple debates or agree to an earlier debate schedule.
New York residents are able to cast early votes until Nov. 6.
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