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Crime Dominates Debate In Tighter New York Governor Race

Crime was the main focus in a debate between New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and Republican challenger Lee Zeldin on Tuesday. Polls indicate Zeldin has leveraged the issue to narrow the gap against the Democratic incumbent ahead of the Nov. 8 election. While the state's majority Democratic electorate has not chosen a Republican governor since 2002, recent polls show Zeldin is gaining on Hochul, prompting the governor to put a new focus on public safety in the final weeks of her campaign, reports Reuters. Zeldin declared the state "in crisis," citing crime, the economy, and other issues while ramping up criticism of policies Hochul has supported, such as eliminating cash bail for non-violent felonies and most misdemeanors. "There are criminals out there who need to pay the consequences for their action, instead of the catch and release policies that Kathy Hochul champions," said Zeldin, a U.S. representative from Long Island.

Hochul, the state's former lieutenant governor who took office last year after Andrew Cuomo resigned over sexual harassment accusations, talked about the Republican's expansive view of gun rights over gun control. "It is a joke to talk about a crime policy that doesn't include doing something about illegal guns," Hochul said. "No more school massacres by teenagers. Let's have background checks. Let's have safety checks. Let's do it smart. You are nowhere to be found." Hochul is still projected to win. Some polls showed her ahead by more than 20 points as recently as this summer. However, as Zeldin called attention to some sensational crimes on the New York City subway system, her lead dwindled to single digits in some mid-October polls. According to Reuters/Ipsos polling from late September to late October, the economy remains the top priority for the biggest share of voters. Five percent have continuously ranked crime or corruption as the most important problem facing the U.S. Previously, Hochul's campaign focused on attacking Zeldin's ties to former President Trump, warning that Zeldin would roll back abortion rights in New York if elected. She has emphasized public safety more, releasing an ad on Friday that pledged "a safer New York for every child" and appearing with New York City Mayor Eric Adams on Saturday to announce a surge in police presence in the city's subway system.


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