New York Gov. Kathy Hochul’s latest ad ends with her looking directly into the camera: “You deserve to feel safe, and as your governor, I won’t stop working until you do.” It’s a message Hochul has been taking to the streets of New York City in the final days of the gubernatorial campaign as she looks to boost turnout in the heavily Democratic city and beat back Republican opponent Lee Zeldin‘s claim she is soft on crime, Politico reports. Lawlessness has become the top issue in the last week of the campaign in what polls show is an unexpectedly close race for governor. Hochul is trying to become the state’s first woman elected governor as Zeldin looks to be the first Republican elected statewide in 20 years. Republicans across the nation contend that Democrats haven’t done enough to fight rising crime, and in New York City, the debate is heightened by almost daily high-profile incidents.
Republicans have centered their attacks on the 2019 decision of New York lawmakers and then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo to end cash bail for most cases, which opponents said led to a revolving door of criminals headed back on the street. While state data has shown a low level of recidivism of those released, Zeldin has pointed to a number of cases where a person was released and then accused of committing new crimes. He vows if elected, to declare a crime emergency and suspend cashless bail. Polls have shown Hochul in the lead by as little as four percentage points, according to Quinnipiac University, or by 11 points, according to Siena College — which had her lead at 17 points more than a month ago. Crime is at the top or near the top of issues that voters are focused on, the polls showed, and Hochul indicated in recent days that she needs to impress upon voters that she’s been working on solutions since she took office when Cuomo resigned in August 2021.