The New York gubernatorial debate on Tuesday between incumbent Democrat Kathy Hochul and Republican contender Lee Zeldin saw crime become a hot topic. While New York has not elected a Republican governor since 2002, Mr Zeldin has harnessed public safety concerns to narrow the gap between him and Ms Hochul.
The Republican politician declared the state was “in crisis” due to crises over crime and the economy.
He also denounced a number of Ms Hochul’s policies, such as scrapping cash bail for non-violent felonies and most other crimes.
Mr Zeldin, a representative for Long Island, said: “There are criminals out there who need to pay the consequences for their action, instead of the catch and release policies that Kathy Hochul champions.”
However, Ms Hochul turned the tables by slamming Mr Zeldin over his views on gun control.
She said: “It is a joke to talk about a crime policy that doesn’t include doing something about illegal guns.
“No more school massacres by teenagers. Let’s have background checks. Let’s have safety checks. Let’s do it smart. You are nowhere to be found.”
Democrat Ms Hochul is still projected to win, although her lead has narrowed considerably since the summer.
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The economy still leads as the most significant issue for the majority of voters in the state.
The governor has highlighted public safety more in recent days by releasing an ad on Friday that pledged “a safer New York for every child”.
She also appeared with New York City Mayor Eric Adams on Saturday to announce a surge in the police presence in the city’s subway system.