Republican candidate for governor Lee Zeldin would not move to limit or restrict a law that expanded abortion rights in New York and doubts Democrats in the state Legislature would advance him such a measure to approve. 

"I believe that the Legislature is an important part of the process and having checks and balances," Zeldin said. "You can't just change a law by an all-powerful emperor executive saying they will do it on their own."

Zeldin's comments come as Democrats and Gov. Kathy Hochul's campaign have highlighted the Republican congressman's opposition to abortion rights and pledge to appoint a state health commissioner who holds similar views. 

New York over the last several years has sought to strengthen its abortion rights, and Hochul earlier this year approved funding to bolster security and facilities of abortion providers. Hochul has also backed an amendment to the state's constitution meant to enshrine equality rights. 

Abortion has emerged as a campaign issue in the race for governor in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling earlier this year that overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade decision. 

Zeldin, along with Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul, made separate appearances at the state Business Council's annual gathering at a tony resort in the Adirondack mountains on Lake George. Zeldin insisted the focus of his campaign was not on abortion, but public safety and pocketbook concerns. 

"If you were trying to really get to the heart of why I'm even in this race, it's because of the economy and crime above all else," he said, adding, "I'm not standing here today at the Business Council of New York for anything that has anything to do with abortion. It has everything to do with making the life of our economy ripping."

To business leaders, Zeldin pitched them on his plans that would include allowing natural gas drilling to bolster the upstate economy and derided criminal justice law changes he blame for a rise in violent crime. He wants to cut income taxes and eliminate others, like the estate tax. 

Hochul, meanwhile, pointed to efforts to revive the state's economy in the aftermath of the pandemic. She called luring companies, including semiconductor manufacturers, a top priority. And she once again said businesses will come to New York because of the state's track record on abortion rights as Republican-led states approved laws limiting or outlawing abortion. 

Hochul is skeptical of Zeldin's vow to not change the current laws. 

"Someone who running for governor in the state of New York who applauded and cheered the overturning of Roe v. Wade, I stand behind my assessment," she told reporters. "That's how I define an extremist."

Hochul has faced questions of her own this campaign, including the lucrative state contract for COVID test kits from a campaign donor. Republicans have called for an investigation. 

"My directive to my team was the only way we're going to get kids back in schools is to amass as many test kits wherever you need them," she said. "Just go do it."

Hochul also insisted there was no link between the state contract and the donation to her campaign. 

"They did what they did, and I will say that no contribution has ever had an effect on any public policy decision in my administration," she said.