Crime and public safety concerns among New York voters are expected to continue to dominate the final stretch of the campaign as Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul and her Republican opponent Rep. Lee Zeldin sought to convince voters they are best to handle the issue.
Zeldin on Monday, campaigning with Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin who a year ago flipped a Democratic governor's office blue, once again pledged to take an ax to the recently approved package of criminal justice law changes in Albany if elected. Hochul, meanwhile, pointed to data showing violent crimes like shootings and homicides are down in New York.
How voters receive these messages could determine who wins Nov. 8 in a race that polls have shown has tightened in recent weeks.
Hochul accused Republicans on Monday in an interview on MSNBC of attempting to stoke fears around crime in New York and Democratic-led states across the country.
"These are master manipulators. They have this conspiracy going all across America to try to convince people in Democratic states they're not as safe," she said. "Well guess what? They're not only election deniers, they're data deniers. The data shows that murders and shootings in our state are down by 15%, down almost 20% on Long Island where Lee Zeldin lives."
Hochul has touted her support for measures meant to take illegal guns off the streets and stop their flow into New York from states with less restrictive laws.
"It's the Republican states, where they have almost no restrictions on guns, because of the abundance of guns, people are killing each other with more frequency," she said.
New York Republicans scoffed at the comments.
"There are plenty of murder victims who would beg to differ if they were alive to speak out," said New York Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy, who is also running for a congressional seat in Western New York. "The only ones in denial are Kathy Hochul and the Democrats who are obfuscating and lying to try and cover up the crime crisis that everyone knows they created. But this, along with her debate comment, tells you everything you need to know about her intentions after the election, which is to do absolutely nothing."
Concerns over crime have consistently registered with voters as a top issue over the last several months, though have been recently subsumed by the economy and inflationary woes for New Yorkers. Voters have also recently ranked "threats to democracy" as a top concern for them as well.
Still, the crime issue has been a potent one for Zeldin, who has indicated most of the state's other problems, including boosting the economy, could be addressed once public safety is accounted for on places like mass transit.
Zeldin has promised to declare a state of emergency surrounding crime and would suspend laws that scale back when cash bail can be used while negotiating with a Democratic-dominated Legislature.
Hochul has countered with a review of her record and support for gun laws that tightened concealed carry requirements following a Supreme Court ruling that overturned New York's century-old law that was on the books. A measure approved in the wake of the Supreme Court limiting where guns can be carried in public settings while also laying down new requirements for obtaining a concealed carry permit is being challenged in court.