Gov. Hochul and U.S. Rep Lee Zeldin Face Off Tonight on their Plans to Fight Crime and Rebuild the NY Economy

Gov. Hochul and U.S. Rep Lee Zeldin Face Off Tonight on their Plans to Fight Crime and Rebuild the NY Economy

By Yehudit Garmaise

With only four days left until early voting begins, Gov. Kathy Hochul and her challenger US Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Long Island) will face each other in their only debate: tonight at 7 pm, at Pace University’s Manhattan campus.

Tonight’s debate will air live on and with only two weeks to go before Election Day on Nov. 8. 

While Gov. Hochul has long enjoyed a comfortable lead until as recently as last month, the latest polls show that Zeldin has gained such considerable ground that he is threatening an upset victory.

While in September, Siena College reported that Hochul has a 17-point lead over her Republican challenger, on Friday, an independent poll showed that voters’ support was evenly split for both candidates: with Zeldin showing a very slight edge.

While Zeldin’s latest surge is making Democrats in the very blue state of New York nervous, FiveThirtyEight, a website that predicts election outcomes, reports that  Hochul with likely still win. 

What can push Zeldin to victory now is momentum, which can be bolstered by a spirited debate, Siena pollster Steve Greenberg explained to Gothamist.

While many more viewers tune into presidential debates than to gubernatorial debates, the news coverage and social media can take great points or major mistakes and turn them into “viral moments” that influence many voters, said Greenberg, who added that Zeldin could close the gap. 

While the debate’s co-moderators: "Inside City Hall" host Errol Louis and "Capital Tonight" host Susan Arbetter will decide the topics on which Hochul and Zeldin will spar, viewers can expect the candidates to present their views on the following topics:

Crime: While Gov. Hochul has aimed to get guns off the streets and committed to paying more police officer overtime to better patrol the subway system, where she will continue to install cameras, Rep. Zeldin has said that her recent push to fight crime is too-little-too-late.

At a campaign event in Forest Hills, Zeldin said Hochul was only rolling out crime-fighting plans because he was surging in the polls.

“It wasn't because of nine murders this year,” Zeldin said, Jacob Kornbluh tweeted. “It was because the day before she got a bad poll back. People see right through it.”

If elected, Zeldin has said he would declare a state of emergency on crime, which would allow him to temporarily suspend the state’s bail laws and fire Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, a progressive who has refused to prosecute many crimes.  

The economy: State governments can’t control the economy of a country, but voters want to see that elected officials are making efforts to protect them from price-gouging. While Hochul set aside money in this year’s budget to provide to preserve money for the state’s health care and education, Zeldin has pledged to cut taxes across the board in NY.

Jobs: By the end of the pandemic, New York lost approximately 2 million jobs that experts say could take years to replace. 

Hochul likely will promote Micron's plans to bring high-tech chip manufacturing jobs to New York, and Zeldin has promised to end to the state's legislatively approved ban on hydrofracking to allow gas companies to drill in the state, which would provide more jobs.

Trump: The former president has endorsed Zeldin, who has been an ally of Trump. 

While Hochul has pointed out Zeldin’s opposition to certifying some state electors in 2020, Zeldin has condemned the insurrection at the US Capitol when protestors tried to stop Congress from certifying the election of President Biden.

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