After winning their respective primaries, Democratic incumbent Gov. Kathy Hochul and Republican opponent Lee Zeldin spent little time concentrating on one another, setting out plans for their general-election campaigns in a series of media appearances on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.
Less than 30 minutes after delivering her victory speech on Tuesday night, Hochul launched the first of her attacks.
In a three-way race, the governor had recently won handily with more than two thirds of the vote. By this time, it was also obvious that Rep. Lee Zeldin, a Long Island Republican who easily won the GOP primary, would be her opponent in the general election.
Hochul told reporters that “there is no comparison between us, and that will be very clear in the next few months of elections” from a floor beneath Tribeca Rooftop, the Manhattan event space where Hochul’s supporters had gathered to watch the election results while chowing down on hors d’oeuvres and enjoying three open bars.
Zeldin was equally direct.
Are we prepared to let Kathy Hochul go? Shortly after taking the stage at his own primary event in Baldwin, Long Island, Zeldin made the following statement.
In his victory speech, Zeldin made it clear that his priorities will be reducing crime, including an attempt to reverse the state’s cashless bail reforms, and fiscal concerns like taxation and rising consumer prices.
He portrayed Hochul as a candidate who was willing to veer too far to the left in order to win her primary and garner additional support.
Zeldin declared, “She’s in over her head.” To be honest, she has a walking identity crisis. In this state, she has been appealing to the far left. She was anxious about today’s primary.
While Zeldin supported both of the U.S. Supreme Court decisions last week that overturned Roe v. Wade and made it simpler to obtain a permit to legally carry a firearm in public, Hochul’s campaign heavily emphasised them, despite polls showing that the majority of New York voters support both abortion rights and gun-control laws.
Hochul also stated that, despite the disruption caused by the rebellion on January 6, she would highlight Zeldin’s votes against certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election in two states.
Whether it’s his support for insurrectionists, his hatred of women’s rights, or whether it’s his support for more firearms rather than fewer guns on the streets, Hochul said, “We will be able to illustrate a stark difference between New York values and what Lee Zeldin has done in Congress.”
Hochul has a significant enrollment advantage over the opposition in the general election.
11.9 million registered voters were still actively casting ballots in New York State as of February. 5.9 million of them, as opposed to 2.6 million Republicans, are Democrats. According to data from the state Board of Elections, independent voters, or those who aren’t affiliated with a party, actually outnumber Republicans by around 68,000.
Since the election of then-Gov. George Pataki to a third term in 2002, no Republican has prevailed in a statewide contest in New York.
Zeldin urged Republicans to come together at his party on Tuesday night in an effort to loosen the Democrats’ hold on Albany. He claimed that centrist voters would be receptive to his tough-on-crime agenda. Those who ran against Zeldin, Andrew Giuliani and Rob Astorino, have already stepped forward to back the candidate for the main election.
The ultimate objective, which is to defeat Kathy Hochul and put an end to one-party rule, must be our focus as we move forward, he stated. Top down, bottom up, one goal, one team.