Election 2022: Democratic incumbent and Long Island GOP congressman vie for New York's highest office
The political race for New York governor is the biggest race this election year for New Yorkers.
For the first time in 12 years, the name Andrew Cuomo is will not be on the ballot. Instead, the race is between the Gov. Kathy Hochul, the woman who succeeded him, and well-known Long Island Rep. Lee Zeldin.
It was 15 months ago when Hochul went from the relatively obscure position of lieutenant governor to one of the nation's most high-profile political posts -- governor of New York, following Cuomo's resignation.
Now the state's first female governor is running for a four-year term against someone trying to become the first New York governor from Long Island since Theodore Roosevelt.
Zeldin, a Republican congressman from Shirley, has zeroed in on an issue many voters are upset over: The bail reform laws passed recently by Albany Democrats that critics say has led to a spike in crime.
"I'll declare a crime emergency in the state of New York, suspend New York's cashless bail law," Zeldin said. "Force the Legislature to come to the table. New Yorkers have spoken. They don't want to see all these pro-criminal laws passed."
For her part, Hochul said she got amendments to the bail reform package and adds that she has tripled money for law enforcement in the state budget. She also said it's hypocritical for Zeldin to campaign on crime.
"For Lee Zeldin to think you can have a tough-on-crime strategy without being tough on guns is just nonsense because he supports giving everybody guns in churches like this, schools, subways," Hochul argued.
The biggest factor in every race for any state-wide office in New York is New York City. The five boroughs account for about 43% of the state's population and voters are overwhelmingly Democrats. So while Republican candidates usually do well upstate and in the suburbs, including here on Long Island, it's usually offset by the city vote.
"New York City is the dominant sort of political center of gravity for the state, but when you look at turnout, it's not always the case," said Blair Horner, of the New York Public Interest Research Group. "And so I think where it's really going to matter from Hochul's perspective is whether or not she is the political apparatus in New York City to pull the vote."
Zeldin is investing time and campaign ads in the city, where bail reform is also a concern in many sections. But Hochul calls Zeldin too extreme for New York with his close ties to former President Donald Trump and his anti-pro-choice stance.
"Right now in Washington, his name is on a bill that would prevent women, even if their lives are in danger or were the victims of incest or rape, not to be able to secure that fundamental right to make a decision," Hochul said.
Zeldin does not think he is extreme but believes the cashless bail law is.
"I think what's extreme is New York's cashless bail law. That people are afraid to ride the subway without getting pushed in front of an oncoming subway car," Zeldin said.