New York hasn’t had a Republican governor since George Pataki in 2006, and a Zeldin victory could signal widespread losses for Democrats Tuesday night.
Zeldin has been attacking Hochul on the economy and crime, while Hochul has run a number of ads targeting Zeldin for his opposition to abortion rights and his support of Trump, who endorsed Zeldin in October.
Two incidents during the campaign opened Hochul up further to salvos from Zeldin on crime. In July, a man brandished a sharp object and attempted to attack Zeldin while he was delivering a campaign rally in western New York. The suspect, initially charged with the nonviolent felony of attempted assault, was released without bail, leading Zeldin to criticize the state’s bail laws. (He also faced a federal assault charge.) Three years ago, New York passed a law that ended cash bail for most misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies.
In October, two teens were struck by gunfire from a moving car outside his Long Island home. Zeldin pointed to the October shooting as further proof of a public safety crisis in New York. His statement read in part, “No one is safe in Crimewave Kathy’s New York — not even our candidate for governor Lee Zeldin.”
Hochul has been a more successful fundraiser than Zeldin, but both had significant cash on hand heading into the final weeks of the race. The polls in this race tightened in the final weeks of the campaign, leading national Republican groups to add more resources in hopes that Zeldin might pull off an upset.