ALBANY – A pair of police unions backed opposing candidates in the New York governors race on Tuesday as Governor Hochul and Republican challenger Lee Zeldin continue their stalemate debate.
Hochul announced support from the New York State Police Charity Association when Zeldin presented endorsement to the New York Police Conference, the umbrella organization of law enforcement unions.
“As governor, my highest priority is to make sure New Yorkers in each community not only feel safe, but they are also safe,” the governor said in a statement. “By working hand in hand with law enforcement and the communities they serve, we have made progress on the safety of our streets and a fairer criminal justice system.”
Crime and public safety remain major issues for New Yorkers as the November 8 general election looms.
Zeldin accused Hochul of high-profile violent crimes across the city and accused her of not withdrawing reforms restricting the use of state bail, despite changes made to the recent state budget extending pre-trial detention.
A Congressman from Long Island became interested in an ad showing a montage of violent incidents and crimes, including some from before Hochul became governor.
The ad, which originally featured a clip from Oakland, California, also featured a photo of Saheed Vassell, a Brooklyn bipolar man killed by cops after pointing a metal welding tool at several people.
“It breaks my heart to see my son, Saheed Vassell, in this terrible advertisement,” Vassell’s father, Eric Vassell, said in a statement released on Tuesday.. “It is heartbreaking and furious that Mr. Zeldin is playing politics with my son’s image – criminalizing and dehumanizing Saheed who was m*rdered by the NYPD. “
Vassell’s family calls on Zeldin to apologize and take down the ad.
In recent weeks, Hochul’s campaign has released several ads in which Zeldin strikes at his conservative stance on weapons and ab*rtion, as well as his relationship with former President Donald Trump.
While the two policemen are fighting for it over the airwaves via advertising, it remains unclear whether they will face each other in the pre-election televised debate.
Hochul agreed last week to a single NY1 and Spectrum News debate on October 25, two weeks before the election. Zeldin declined to sign the stand-alone event, arguing that he had repeatedly called for at least five state-wide debates.
Hochul argued on Tuesday that “historically,” there is usually only one electoral debate in a governor race.
“We’re looking forward to making an appearance,” said Hochul after the Long Island incident. “We look forward to having a good conversation and allowing voters to see the real contrast between me and an extreme person who does not represent New York values.”
Zeldin responded by calling Hochul’s refusal to consent to more debates “a profile of cowardice.”
“Regardless of how @KathyHochul tries to put it, one cable debate per hour in late October within a month of voting is totally unacceptable,” he wrote on Twitter. “There should be a lot of debate in New York, and it should start immediately.”
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