With just 25 days to go until Election Day, GOP gubernatorial nominee Lee Zeldin told Capital Tonight that he is prepared to declare a crime state of emergency in New York to give him the power to suspend the recently passed bail reforms to force a conversation on overhauling the changes. While this sweeping state of emergency power would give him power to suspend certain laws, the Republican congressman from Long Island says he will not do the same on the issue of abortion.
U.S. Rep. Zeldin has made the nationwide uptick in crime a central pillar of his campaign and argues a Zeldin win on Election Day would show that New Yorkers have sent a clear message that they want to see more action from Albany on the issue of crime. The issue has become a personal one for Zeldin as his family deals with a shooting that occurred outside his Long Island home that left two people injured while his twin daughters did homework inside the house. Zeldin said the shooting was a gang related drive-by shooting and added “when I left the Bronx last Friday, I didn’t expect that the next time I would be in front of crime scene tape was going to be in front of my own house.”
New York City Mayor Eric Adams has said some of the criminal justice laws need to change, citing NYPD data that the bail system is "broken." Zeldin agrees and said the issue “isn’t a Democrat versus Republican issue.”
Earlier this month, portions of New York’s new concealed carry law was struck down. While the state continues to fight for the law, Zeldin said the new rules are “black and white unconstitutional” and adds that the law is “far more unconstitutional” than the law that was struck down in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen case.
The overturning of abortion rights in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization has thrown the issue into the spotlight during this midterm season. Despite being anti-abortion, the Long Island congressman told Capital Tonight that he will not roll back the abortion law that New York passed in 2019, which codified Roe into state law. Zeldin argues that New York taxpayers are “not interested” in paying for out-of-state residents coming to New York to receive abortion services.
There has been some big economic development news for New York in recent weeks with Micron and IBM making large investments in Central New York and the Hudson Valley. Zeldin told Capital Tonight that more needs to be done to “improve the business climate” in New York by reducing taxes and the cost of doing business. On the transparency front, Zeldin said he supports legislation that would restore comptroller oversight of contracts and establish a blackout period for political donations from donors who have business in front of the state. The Republican gubernatorial candidate said that he would not accept donations from political appointees or their spouses and would not meet one on one with potential donors with business before the state.
With energy prices expected to rise, Zeldin argues the state needs to support an “all of the above” energy strategy that includes the extraction of natural gas and nuclear power. Zeldin added that some of the target dates included in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act may need to be adjusted so that the cost of not hitting those dates isn’t passed onto the people who can’t afford it.
Zeldin reiterated his call for multiple debates between him and Democratic incumbent Kathy Hochul that could take place around the state. Until now, Hochul has not agreed to more than the Spectrum News 1 debate scheduled for Oct. 25. Zeldin did not commit to the Oct. 25 date and argued it is too late in the month with absentee ballots already out and not enough.
Early voting in New York starts on Oct. 29 and runs until Nov. 6. The last chance that voters will have a chance to cast their ballot is on Election Day, Nov. 8.