Zeldin calls Hochul about delaying vote-by-mail debate in 8 days

Republican nominee Rep. Lee Zeldin on Thursday called Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul for failing to sign her with him nearly a month after she agreed to stand at least twice before the Nov. 8 election to debate.

“In eight days, we’re going to see absentee ballots being handed out,” Zeldin said at a news conference on Thursday.

“Kathy Hochul has been telling you, members of the media, for weeks that she will be debating, but she has not yet said where, when or how many.”

The Long Island congressman says he is eager to fight with the incumbent Democrat in as many as five statewide debates on issues such as rising crime, inflation, government oversight of yeshivas and population loss.

He accused Hochul of dodging voters, even though her party sends out pre-filled absentee ballot applications to registered Democrats across the state. The process is legal under state law, but Republicans have accused Democrats of using “dirty tricks” as part of the effort.

“Kathy Hochul is basically trying to get away with saying that if you elect her you might find out what her position could be in January. I reject congestion pricing. Kathy Hochul supports it. Let’s discuss it.”

The GOP nominee has accepted two pending invitations from CBS2 and PIX11 to debate Hochul on TV. The governor has yet to commit to both.

Experts say Hochul is pursuing a “rose garden” strategy, in which she limits engagement with her opponent while using official government events alongside her own campaign ads to reach voters while keeping Zeldin out of the conversation.

Zeldin said he is willing to debate Hochul up to five times in different locations across the state.
Zeldin said he is willing to debate Hochul up to five times in different locations across the state.
Lev Radin/Sipa USA

This approach also helps Hochul avoid mid-air gaffes, which would give his campaign more ammunition for attacks, but delaying the debate on Zeldin comes with risks of its own, given that the GOP is similar to Democrats like US Senate nominee John Fetterman Pennsylvania, who finally committed to a single debate Thursday with opponent Dr. Mehmet Oz on October 25th.

“Fetterman had a stroke, what could be Gov. Hochul’s apology?” Councilor Joe Borelli (R-SI), a spokesman for the pro-Zeldin Save Our State PAC, told the Post Thursday.

“The public deserves to hear her explain why she puts criminals in front of the public eye, or puts commuters into oblivion with taxes, or destroys our upstate farms. Their ‘Orange Man Bad’ strategy will not work for their constituents, who now face real problems every day and continue to struggle to live in the country’s most unaffordable state,” said Borelli, who is also the minority leader of the city council, added .

A Hochul campaign spokesman declined to comment Thursday on when and where she would fulfill her vows.

Polls over the last few weeks have shown Hochul to have a six to 24 point lead over Zeldin, who is also at a disadvantage with fundraising.

Debates would provide him with an opportunity to confront the governor while raising his profile with voters.

Four years ago, then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Republican challenger Marc Molinaro faced off in one Individual debate on Oct. 23 – a day after the agreement to meet.

Four years later, the electoral landscape is different as higher absentee voting rates and the introduction of early voting have come into play.

“The Democratic Party is strategically trying to get people to start voting next week. But strategically, they’re trying to ensure that a debate doesn’t take place until after the vote. And that’s just wrong,” Zeldin said Thursday. Zeldin calls Hochul about delaying vote-by-mail debate in 8 days


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