Lee Zeldin, Gov. Kathy Hochul taking it out over crime in fiery debate amid surge in New York violence

New York’s Republican gubernatorial hopeful, Lee Zeldin, wrangled with incumbent Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul in a primetime debate Tuesday about rising crime and the ongoing surge of violence plaguing the state’s citizens.

Zeldin opened the debate by declaring New York was “in a crisis” because of Hochul’s leadership, and blasted policies like cashless bail and said soft on crime approaches have resulted in New Yorkers feeling unsafe.

“We need to make our streets safe again. I’m running to take back our streets, and to support, unapologetically, our men and women in law enforcement,” Zeldin said when asked about his crime policy.

Zeldin brought up the same point later in the debate and stated that Hochul did not believe there was a “crime emergency” in the state. Hochul dismissed Zeldin’s focus on crime and bail policies as a political scare tactic.

“Anyone who commits a crime under our laws, especially with the change they made to bail, has consequences. I don’t know why that’s so important to you,” Hochul said at one point, before stating that to reduce crime the state should increase gun control.

LEE ZELDIN BLASTS NEW YORK GOV. KATHY HOCHUL OVER BEING LATE ON CRIME: ‘WE HAVE TO SAVE OUR STATE’

Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin and incumbent Democratic governor Kathy Hochul clashed in a primetime debate on October 25, 2022, just two weeks ahead of New York's gubernatorial election.

Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin and incumbent Democratic governor Kathy Hochul clashed in a primetime debate on October 25, 2022, just two weeks ahead of New York’s gubernatorial election.
(Screenshot/Spectrum News)

Hochul accused Zeldin of trying to keep New Yorkers “scared” about crime and claimed she had policies that were “making a difference” in addressing the issue.

She did not directly address rising crime across New York, but cited Monday’s shooting at a school in St. Louis, Missouri, that killed two people as a reason for increased gun control measures.

“There is no crime fighting plan if it doesn’t include guns — illegal guns,” she said before claiming Zeldin refused to talk about gun reform, and calling for an “assault weapons ban for teenagers.”

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Zeldin hit back, arguing the crime expanded far beyond instances where a firearm was used.

“Unfortunately, Kathy Hochul believes that the only crimes that are being committed are these crimes with guns. And you have people who are afraid of being pushed in front of oncoming subway cars. They’re being stabbed, beaten to death on the street with hammers,” he said.

“Go talk to the Asian-American community and how it’s impacted them with the loss of lives, Jewish people targeted with raw, violent antisemitism on our streets. It just happened, yet again. We need to be talking about all of these other crimes , but instead Kathy Hochul is too busy patting herself on the back,” he added.

People wait to board a subway train at the West 4th Street station on October 9, 2022, in New York City.

People wait to board a subway train at the West 4th Street station on October 9, 2022, in New York City.
((Photo by Gary Hershorn/Getty Images))

Zeldin then called for the state legislature to open a special session to address crime by overhauling cashless bail and what he called other “pro-criminal laws.”

Moderator Errol Louis noted the drastic increases in crime in the New York City subways, including its rise by more than 57% this year alone, as well as an increase of more than 100% in the homicide rate from last year.

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Hochul said she understood the fear New Yorkers felt over the rise in crime, and touted what she claimed was an increase in funding for law enforcement, but did not speak to the specific rise in crime mentioned.

“It’s amazing that we’re going to be able to go through the entire crime conversation of this debate, and we’re still waiting for Kathy Hochul to talk about actually locking up criminals,” Zeldin interjected.

Republican New York gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin and incumbent Democratic Gov.  Kathy Hochul.

Republican New York gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin and incumbent Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul.
(Getty Images)

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Fox News’ Power Rankings has rated the New York gubernatorial race as “likely Democrat.”

The election will be held Tuesday, Nov. 8.