Governor Hochul tore up his Republican rival Lee Zeldin of Long Island on Thursday after refusing to condemn the far-right political group backing Trump.
“I’d just say it’s important to meet some of these people,” said Zeldin, when asked about the group, Long Island Loud Most, and whether he condemned extremists in an interview with WNYW-TV posted on Wednesday.
Long Island Loud Most backed Zeldin in his surprisingly competitive attempt to overthrow Hochul, the Buffalo Democrat. He seemed to express doubts as to whether the group was made up of “right-wing” extremists.
Hochul accused that Zeldin’s defense of the group was “a refusal to summon white supremacists,” adding that her rival showed New Yorkers “who the real Lee Zeldin is.”
“He had a chance to get up and shout the hatred, bigotry and brutal behavior of so many people – and he declined,” Hochul said at a press conference in Manhattan.
The Long Island Loud Most, which is marked as “extremely anti-government” group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Zeldin of Shirley joined the center during the campaign, belittling his anti-ab*rtion stance and the support he received last month from former President Donald Trump.
The congressman voted to invalidate the 2020 elections won by President Biden, but since then has deemed Biden’s victory to be justified. (He received his vote against approval of the elections.)
He also raised funds with Trump during the campaign, but tried to divert the conversation from the former president and steer him towards crime rates that have soared over the past year.
Its platform includes commitments to lower taxes and suspend bail reform by reporting a criminal threat.
“People are reaching a tipping point and fleeing the state because their wallets, security, freedom, the quality of their children’s education are at stake,” Zeldin, 42, said Fox News on Wednesday.
Although 64-year-old Hochul is seen as the favorite in New York, where Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than 2 to 1, recent public opinion polls have found her lead shrinking to a single digit number.
In recent days, she has reacted by hurriedly consolidating her position in democratic-rich New York, plunging into a dizzying array of events across the city, from the Bronx to Southeast Queens.
On Thursday morning, she was the main character of a clergy breakfast at the Sheraton Times Square Hotel ballroom, joining Democratic leaders to plead with religious leaders to push their parishioners to the polls.
“We need to get up and stop the rampage of gun violence in New York State,” said Hochul, who tightened New York’s gun laws, said at breakfast. “I know our churches are sensitive places.”
Breakfast also featured fiery comments from Democrats including the state attorney general Letitia James, Mayor Adams, and state controller Thomas DiNapoli.
“It’s a good old-fashioned battle,” Adams said of the November 8 elections. “We have to give the Republicans good old-fashioned cheers.”
Hochul, New York’s first female governor, was scheduled to hold a rally in Morningside Heights on Thursday night with two of America’s most prominent women in politics: Hillary Clinton and Vice President Kamala Harris.
Zeldin was to hold an evening rally in the village of Castleton-on-Hudson, south of Albany, with Republican Elise Stefanik, whose district covers the northeastern part of New York.
Election day is Tuesday.
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