Lee Zeldin shows he understands crime crisis Hochul dismisses

Home » Lee Zeldin shows he understands crime crisis Hochul dismisses
Lee Zeldin shows he understands crime crisis Hochul dismisses


On Tuesday night, Republican gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin debated as though his life — and the lives of all New Yorkers — depended on it. Words spilled out of his mouth with urgency as he pressed his case that the Empire State is in critical condition.

Meanwhile, our appointed governor, Kathy Hochul, debated as though she wanted to make as little an impression as possible. She seemed to be deliberately boring, flat and without affect.

Politically, you can understand Hochul’s game plan. If she came across as someone who believed the state was in a terrifying downward spiral, she would make the surging Zeldin’s case for him.

He came out of the paddock at a hundred miles an hour: “Why does New York lead the entire nation in population loss?” he said. “Because their wallets, their safety, their freedom, and the quality of their kids’ education are under attack.”

Put simply: “You’re poorer and less safe because of Kathy Hochul and extreme policies.”

Hochul’s entire demeanor seemed designed to suggest everything in the state was basically on track — she even claimed, hilariously, that due to pothole repairs, “everyone loves the [Long Island Expressway] now” — that Zeldin’s line of attack was just intended to frighten voters. “You can either work on keeping people scared or you can focus on keeping them safe,” she said.

That’s a cute pre-planned line, but she still seemed taken aback by the fiery way he kept coming at her on the matter of public safety, and sought to deflect time and again. She even accused him of him of a form of election denialism because he has vowed to remove the elected, turn-a-blind-eye-to-crime Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg from office.

Zeldin told viewers that they are "poorer and less safe" because of Hochul's policies.
Zeldin told viewers that they are “poorer and less safe” because of Hochul’s policies.
AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, Pool

“In Lee Zeldin’s world, you overturn elections you don’t agree with,” Hochul said — attempting to tie his shameful support for Donald Trump’s ludicrous claims about the 2020 vote in Arizona and Pennsylvania to his concern over the failure to prosecute.

But while Trump had no case, Zeldin really does in this matter. The state constitution gives the governor the authority to remove district attorneys for a failure to faithfully prosecute the law. Indeed, the constitution’s language suggest it would be a dereliction of a governor’s duty not to exercise that authority if he or she knows the DA has failed to go after a criminal.

It’s right there in Article 13: “Any district attorney who shall fail faithfully to prosecute a person charged with the violation in his or her county of any provision of this article which may come to his or her knowledge, shall be removed from office by the governor, after due notice and an opportunity of being heard in his or her defense.”

This is the check and balance put in place to remind elected DAs they cannot just do as they please.

Zeldin kept pressing and pressing — and the bland Hochul then made the biggest mistake of her career. Since, in her estimation “anyone who commits a crime” in New York state, “faces consequences,” Zeldin was somehow being irrational to insist she discuss how to reduce violent crime. “I don’t know why that’s so important to you,” she said.

Yes, the governor of New York state said she didn’t know why that would be important to Zeldin — and, by implication, to anyone.

Hochul asked Zeldin why reducing crime is "so important to you.”
Hochul asked Zeldin why reducing crime is “so important to you.”
AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, Pool

Hochul may yet win this race for the very reason she came off as so bland and unmemorable. She wants to be the generic Democrat — the person on the ballot people vote for simply because she is at the top of the ticket of the more popular and populous party and for no other particular reason.

Sure, that may work. But Lee Zeldin had to make a case for why people should not vote for the generic Democrat on grounds of safety and dysfunction. And he did. And that, too, might be enough to see him achieve the same kind of gasp-inducing victory George Pataki did in 1994 when he ousted Mario Cuomo in a year when voters had simply had enough of Democratic rule.

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