Gotham Gazette

The Place for New York Policy and politics


The Issues Dominating the 2022 Election for New York Governor: Where The Candidates Stand

Kathy Hochul and Lee Zeldin

This is Part 2 of a two-part article on the issues dominating the 2022 general election for New York Governor between Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul and Republican U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin. Read Part 1 here.

As Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul and Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin face off in this year’s election for Governor of New York, several top issues have emerged based on what the candidates are focused on and polling shows matters most to New Yorkers.

Those issues include the economy and cost of living, crime and public safety, abortion rights, and gun control.

One or both of the two candidates have also shown at least some attention to education, climate, transit, and government reform and other democracy issues.

They have also been on the attack against each other, whether on the aforementioned issues or other political allegiances, including Hochul’s relationships with former Governor Andrew Cuomo and former Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin, both of whom resigned amid scandal, or Zeldin’s relationships with former President Donald Trump and others who attempted to stop the peaceful transfer of power based on the 2020 presidential election.

In part one of this two-part article, Gotham Gazette outlined in more detail the Hochul-Zeldin matchup and those key issues of the 2022 race for Governor of New York. Below, in part two, a closer look at the top issues of the race, where each candidate stands on them, and what polling shows New Yorkers think.

SCOTUS Rulings
In the aftermath of public uproar over the Supreme Court’s two recent decisions, protecting abortion rights and gun control appear to be key issues among voters, along with others like crime, the economy, and more.

In the span of a June week, the court overturned both Roe v. Wade – a 1973 ruling that created a federal right to abortion care across the country – and a century-old New York State law that required applicants for a concealed carry permit to provide “proper cause” distinguishable from the general public.

Hochul has opposed the rulings, and made policy and budget moves to counteract them, while Zeldin has supported both rulings and criticized some of Hochul’s response, especially around new gun laws.

But likely reacting to his unfavorable stances on both issues in a state like New York, Zeldin has also called both issues a distraction from what he says New Yorkers are more concerned about, predominantly crime and inflation. Zeldin’s reactions, including downplaying the idea of changing New York’s abortion laws that enshrined Roe protections as of 2019, indicate he hopes to avoid such issues in a state that hasn’t supported a GOP presidential nominee since 1984.

The Siena polling from early June and late July showed that New Yorkers widely oppose both of the rulings, with the majority of voters from every party, region, gender, and race saying both that they belive abortion should be always or mostly legal and that they are supportive of new laws that place limits on firearm use.

With job numbers improving and the price of gas and other goods and services prices down for the second month in a row, those issues seem to have become even more pressing as voters – particularly independents, who are essential to Zeldin’s chances for an upset – are worrying less about the economy, says Bruce Gyory. A political scientist, Democratic strategist, and senior advisor at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP, Gyory closely studies polling, voting trends, and the demographics of the electorate.

According to Gyory, all of the focus on possible economic recession and challenges with inflation have at least in part been overshadowed by abortion rights in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling.

“And now all of a sudden independent voters, who seemed to be driven by crime and inflation, seem to be quite worried about [reproductive] choice and the excesses of the ‘right to life’ movement,” Gyory told Gotham Gazette.

Recent Emerson College/PIX-11/The Hill polling showed New York independents identifying abortion access and gun control as the third (9.8%) and fourth (8.6%) most important issues to them when deciding who to vote for in the race, respectively, following only the economy (37.7%) and healthcare (19.3%).

Abortion Rights
New York State is a liberal bastion that has never elected an anti-abortion candidate since it became a critical talking point in the 1970s, and no Republican in it has won statewide in two decades.

When respondents in the SurveyUSA poll were asked to rank how important the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade will be in the fall election on a scale of 1 to 10 (where 10 means the single most important issue impacting their vote and 1 means not important to their vote at all), the average response among all voters was 7. Among Democrats it was 7.9, Republicans 5.6, and independents 6.9.

The most recent polling from Emerson College/PIX-11/The Hill found that 83% of New York voters think that abortion should be legal in the third trimester of pregnancy, in line with New York law that allows for such choice based on the health of the mother. 

If there is a risk to the mother’s life, 50% of voters in the poll said abortion should be allowed in the third trimester, including 46.4% of Republicans, 60% of independents, and 46.5% of Democrats.

Conversely, nearly 20% of voters – including 44.5% of Republicans, 11.2% of Democrats, and 14.7% of independents – think abortion should not be allowed in the third trimester.

According to the Siena poll conducted in late July, protecting abotion rights is widely popular across the state, with the majority of respondents saying that abortion should be always or mostly legal and that they oppose the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe. 

“Prior to the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs, New Yorkers said they wanted the Court to uphold Roe 60-24%. Today, 68% say they oppose the decision to overturn Roe, eliminating the constitutional right to abortion,” Siena pollster Steven Greenberg said in a press release announcing the late July survey results. “Although a small majority of Republicans support the Dobbs decision, it is opposed by 89% of Democrats, 60% of independents, and at least 62% of voters from every region, age group, gender, and race.

The survey found support for abortion being always or mostly legal to be even more robust in New York, with agreement from 88% of Democrats, 75% of independents, and 50% of Republicans, as well as at least two-thirds of voters from every region, age group, gender, race, and religion surveyed.

In the June Siena poll, by 63%-19% New York residents were also found to be in favor of enhanced legal protections for abortion, including a majority of voters from every region, gender, religion, and age group surveyed, as well as Democrats and independents. Among Republicans, 44-34% favored increased abortion protections.

Hochul has long championed abortion and other reproductive rights, and taken several steps as governor to build on actions taken in New York when she was lieutenant governor, which included the 2019 Reproductive Health Act, which enshrined Roe protections into state law.

More recently, she allocated tens of millions of dollars in additional funding to abortion providers across the state and said New York welcomes those from elsewhere who need reproductive care here (though she opposed using state funds to help pay for transportation). And she has sought to expand abortion care via tele-health, pills, and other avenues.

She also advocated for the first passage of a state Equal Rights Amendment, which would add a right to abortion, among many other protections, into the State Constitution. That amendment will need to pass another legislative class and be approved by voters in order to become part of the state constitution as early as the end of 2023.

Anti-abortion throughout his political career, Zeldin was critical of New York’s Reproductive Health Act of 2019, floated the idea of appointing an anti-abortion health commissioner during this year’s primary, and expressed approval for the Supreme Court overturning Roe in a campaign statement. He supports enhancing adoption avaibility across the state and often stresses need for parental consent or informed consent when looking for abortion care.

“The reality is, we’re gonna have a balance of power in January. The State Assembly is going to be Democrat,” he said in May when pressed by reporters about how he would change the state’s abortion laws, referring to the potential for his holding office after winning this year’s election and the possibility of a Republican takeover of the State Senate, which is unlikely any time soon. “The Democratic control of the New York State Assembly is not going to be sending me a bill that is going to be rolling this stuff back,” he added of abortion protections, in an apparent effort to diffuse some of the potential unpopularity of his position on the issue.

When later asked how he might use the governor’s signifigant leverage over the state budget to influence issues like abortion, same-sex marriage, and more, Zeldin did not directly offer an answer. Meanwhile, he has pledged to change the state’s bail laws through the budget process.

Zeldin was among those who voted against New York’s Marriage Equality Act of 2011 when he was in the State Senate, but he recently voted in favor of marriage equality during a House vote in July of this year. 

Also in July, Zeldin voted against the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2022, which prohibits restrictions on abortion services, and the Ensuring Access to Abortion Act of 2022. He also voted against the Right to Contraception Act, which would federally protect access to birth control.

Abortion and gun restrictions are secondary to more important issues in the race like crime and the economy, Zeldin argues.

“No matter what distractions anyone throws up to try and take us off of that conversation that matters most to New Yorkers…I’m going to continue to talk about crime and public safety,” Zeldin told NY1. “I’m going to continue to talk about the economy and lost opportunities. I’m gonna continue to talk about what is never-ending scandal and dishonor coming out of the state capital.”

Gun Laws
New York voters widely say that they are supportive of measures that limit firearm ownership and use, such as new laws that require permits to obtain semi-automatic rifles and expand eligibility requirements to carry concealed weapons. 

The Siena survey conducted in late July found that more than three-quarters of voters, ​​including at least 65% of every demographic group, support the new gun laws, with approval for them strong among even conservatives and gun owners. 

The recent Emerson College/PIX-11/The Hill poll found that gun violence was top of mind for 9.3% of voters when deciding how to cast their vote in November, including among 12.7% of Democrats, 2.6% of Republicans, and 8.6% of independents. 

In the SurveyUSA poll, 9% of respondents said that “guns” were the most important issue to them in deciding how they would vote for Governor this fall, including 5% of Republicans, 11% of Democrats, and 12% of independents.

“You know, it's just hard that every day you see another shooting,” said Republican political consultant Tom Doherty, a partner at Mercury Public Affairs and former aide to Gov. George Pataki. “I think that people are just tired of guns being out there.”

In different ways, Hochul and Zeldin each believes that their gun-related stances will appeal to voters. Hochul is focused on local gun violence prevention measures and broader gun control policies, while offering funding and support for the police. Zeldin opposes most gun control policies but otherwise offers a tougher “law and order” stance wherein he pledges to jail more defendants pre-trial and reverse what he calls an anti-police culture in state government. Polling shows some support for both of their stances, but it is clear that New Yorkers are in support of fairly strict gun control measures championed by Hochul.

The Supreme Court’s June decision -- supported by Zeldin and opposed by Hochul -- to strike down the century-old New York-specific law requiring a special license to carry a concealed handgun was hugely unpopular across the state, according to the June Siena poll. By a 79%-15% margin, those surveyed in the poll said that they wanted the Court to uphold the New York law that placed special restrictions on concealed carry permits, including 72% of gun owners, 79% of Republicans, and 77% of independents. 

Governor Hochul responded to the Supreme Court decision striking down New York’s concealed carry permitting process by working with the Legislature to pass a new law with several elements related to gun permits and carry restrictions. It sets up a new system of requirements for New Yorkers to obtain a concealed carry permit, including an in-person interview and exam, a review of social media accounts, and a minimum of 16 hours of training and two hours of firing range practice.

It also gives some discretion to local judges in the application process, prevents guns from being carried into many “sensitive areas” – such as subways, buses, parks, hospitals, stadiums, daycares, and Times Square – and expands body armor and safe storage laws. The full specifics of the sensitive areas will largely be left to localities. Meanwhile, the law also prohibits concealed carry in private businesses like restaurants unless the business explicitly posts a sign saying that concealed carry is welcome inside.

Debate has ensued about whether these laws will actually prevent more gun violence from occurring, as Hochul has guaranteed. Critics like Zeldin say that it is only infringing on the legal rights of law-abiding citizens under the Second Amendment. Hochul has referenced the possibility of public shoot-outs or other chaos that could occur with more people carrying guns amid perceived threats. She and other supporters of stricter gun laws have also noted that legal guns are often lost or stolen, and become illegal guns that are eventually used to commit gun violence.

The vast majority of New York voters approve of the law, according to the Siena poll taken in July. “Support for the new law expanding eligibility requirements to obtain a permit to carry a concealed weapon – background checks with character references and firearms safety training courses – is through the roof with all demographic groups. In fact, the ‘lowest’ support is with conservatives, who favor the new law 71-27%,” said Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg.

 “There is also strong support for prohibiting concealed weapons in sensitive locations, 60-34%, and requiring private businesses to have a sign if they allow concealed weapons on their premises, 63-32%.”

The most recent polling from Emerson College/PIX-11/The Hill shows 38% of New York voters saying that that new gun law that adds eligibility requirements to concealed carry permit applications and restrict the carrying of concealed weapons in “sensitive locations” will have no impact on the amount of crime, compared to 32% who think the new law will increase crime, and 30% who think it will decrease crime.

Support is also high for gun restrictions included in a prior package of bills Hochul signed into law in June, which included setting a requirement to obtain a license that includes being at minimum 21 years old, passing a background check, and taking a safety course before purchasing a semi-automatic rifle, according to the June Siena poll. More than a third of voters and at least 65% of every demographic group approved of the law, including 67% of Republicans and 73% of gun owners, according to the poll.

By 58%-24% voters said that they also supported outlawing certain types of body armor for civilians, including three-quarters of Democrats, half of Republicans, and 54% of gun owners. 

“Four years ago, marking the fifth anniversary of New York’s Safe Act – at the time, one of the strictest gun control measures in the nation – voters supported the Safe Act by a wide 61-28% margin,” Greenberg said in June. “Now, support for needing both a permit for acquiring a semi-automatic weapon and a license for carrying a concealed weapon is even higher – across the ideological spectrum.”

Zeldin discussed the state's concealed carry permitting process in interviews after his primary win. “I believe that the Supreme Court made the correct decision,” he told NY1. “If a law-abiding citizen wants to safely and securely carry a firearm for their personal self-defense, we should not treat that the same way as the criminal who seeks to harm others.” 

Zeldin opposes gun-free zones and the NY SAFE Act, a 2013 gun regulation package that banned new sales of most assault weapons. He holds an ‘A’ rating from the NRA.

Despite backtracking somewhat, he has also been critical of red flag laws, which allow courts to restrict firearms access among people deemed a risk to themselves or others. And Zeldin has said that he is against raising the age necessary to buy firearms to 21, a requirement that Hochul has signed into law in New York.

Zeldin recently missed the House vote on the federal Bipartisan Safer Communities Act – an agreement between Democrats and Republicans that aims to make it harder for some potentially dangerous individuals to obtain firearms and allocates more federal funding for crisis intervention and mental health services. The bill was signed into law by President Joe Biden in late June, making it the first federal gun safety legislation passed in three decades. 

Zeldin recently voted against the Active Shooter Alert bill, which proposes setting up a system to alert people in case of a nearby active shooter, and an Assault Weapons Ban, which makes it a crime to knowingly import, sell, manufacture, transfer, or possess a semiautomatic assault weapon or large capacity ammunition feeding device. Both bills passed the House but have not yet been brought up for a vote in the Senate.

Along with many other Republican politicians across the country, Zeldin has said that the root of endemic gun violence is violent criminals who need to be locked up and those suffering from mental health issues. He has pledged to make investments in prisons to bolster support for mental health patients and those suffering from addiction.

“Going after crimes committed with illegal firearms is very different than going after law-abiding citizens and denying them the right to be able to safely and securely carry their personal self-defense,” he said in a June 28 interview on 1010 WINS. “That is a right that I agree with, I support, I defend.”

Crime and Public Safety 
Voters across every party, region, gender, and race are all deeply concerned about crime and public safety in New York, according to the June Siena poll. Those concerns were higher across the board in the June survey over a previous poll conducted in February, with fears highest among New York Metropolitan Area and Black voters. (The Siena poll conducted in late July did not ask respondents about crime.)

The recent Emerson College/PIX-11/The Hill poll found that crime may have become somewhat less top-of-mind for voters, with 12.4% of Republicans, 5.6% of Democrats, and 5.7% of independents saying it was the most important issue to them when deciding who to vote for in November. 

The SurveyUSA poll did not ask explicitly about public safety, though it did find that 12% of all respondents identified criminal justice reform as the top issue for them in the November election, with 16% of Republicans, 8% of Democrats, and 14% of independents.

To combat rising crime rates of the last two-plus years, Hochul has worked to increase funding for law enforcement and community groups, enhance the social safety net, toughen the bail law, and take other steps.

Zeldin proposes repealing bail reforms altogether and giving judges more discretion to jail defendants pre-trial, hiring more police officers, attempting to oust prosecutors he claims fail to adequately pursue criminal cases, and more.

From every party, region, gender, and race surveyed by Siena in June, at least 90% of voters said that crime is a serious problem in the state, with at least 57% saying it’s a very serious problem. Those numbers drop some when respondents were asked about their own communities, with 65% saying that crime in their community is a serious problem and 27% saying it is very serious; 60% said that they are concerned they could be a victim of crime, with 26% very concerned – up from 57% and 22% in February.

“New Yorkers said crime was a problem in February and they continue to see it a major problem in June,” Siena pollster Steven Greenberg said in June. “A majority of voters of every region, party, race, and gender say they are concerned they could be victims of crime.” 

Hochul pushed legislators to tighten bail laws through her first and only state budget but has argued against going to much broader discretion for judges, despite calls from Democratic New York City Mayor Eric Adams, Zeldin, and others to do that. She has instead said touted the targeted changes to the law, which do include several aspects related to a defendant’s past record and perceived dangerousness to society. Hochul says that if implemented well, the changes will work to reduce crime and recidivism.

As governor Hochul has also focused on several other efforts to prevent gun violence. 

In the wake of a racist mass shooting in Buffalo in May, she worked with the Legislature to pass a package of ten laws that expanded the state’s red flag law, raised the minimum age to purchase a semi-automatic weapon from 18 to 21, will eventually help police forensically trace bullets, and more.

In response to the Supreme Court ruling, the governor and legislators then passed laws to address gun licenses, concealed carry permits, and the aforementioned “sensitive locations.” Hochul also directed police to increase their visibility in schools after the Uvalde school massacre. 

And she took the steps she says will improve the state’s bail law and public safety, an apparent attempt to undercut perhaps the chief criticism being leveled by Republicans against her and other Democrats in this year’s elections. The updates to the law allow in many more cases for the arrest and pre-trial detention of alleged repeat offenders, including on violations that are on their own typically not bail eligible under the law.

“You’ll never hear this from my opponent, but the fact is, we did toughen the bail laws,” Hochul said in an interview with 1010 Wins radio. “The fact is the bail laws were changed, they were strengthened, and now we’re starting to see the effect that people now know that the police, the district attorneys, and the judges have what they need to do their jobs.”

The governor prefaced her comment by saying that “there’s a larger picture than bail reform” and that she is more focused on addressing gun violence and amending the state’s concealed carry permitting process. She has also increased state funding for local law enforcement and for community nonprofit groups that do outreach work to prevent gun violence and other crime.

According to the Emerson College/PiX-11/The Hill poll, New York voters think the current bail reform policy has increased crime rather than decreased crime (61%-11%), while 28% think it has had no impact on crime in New York. Available criminal justice system data has shown a limited impact, with very similar percentages of defendants rearrested pre-trial before and after the reforms.

“Republican and independent voters think the current bail reform policy and new gun laws regarding eligibility requirements have increased and will increase crime, whereas the plurality of Democratic voters think the measures had no impact and will have no impact on crime” said Spencer Kimball, Executive Director of Emerson College Polling.

If elected to a full term, Hochul has indicated her focus will be implementation of what she has passed, including stronger enforcement of the red flag law, and additional funding for community interventions like violence interrupters. She has also pledged greater cooperation with various partners, including New York City Mayor Eric Adams, on several fronts, such as the interstate gun trafficking task force, which she has touted in recent months for helping to remove thousands of illegal guns from society.

Zeldin frequently emphasizes that he hopes to repeal “cashless bail,” meaning the 2019 bail reform package that eliminated cash bail for most cases involving alleged nonviolent felonies and misdemeanors. He claims that the law has driven up crime rates, despite a lack of definitive evidence. 

Among other evaluations and reporting, The Brennan Center for Justice published a report in March in which its authors found that “there is no clear connection between recent crime increases and the bail reform law enacted in 2019, and the data does not currently support further revisions to the legislation.”

“The data is stories,” Zeldin said as he announced his “Secure Our Streets” crime plan in February, referencing anecdotes.

Zeldin says he would give judges more autonomy when setting bail. He proposes entirely repealing the bail changes as well as the Less is More Act – which ended the practice of automatically sending parolees back to jail for some minor violations, like breaking a curfew or missing an appointment with a parole officer – and the HALT Solitary Confinement Act, which prohibits certain types and lengths of isolation and solitary confinement in state prison and jails across the state. 

He also promises if elected Governor to hire more police officers and increase police funding, in addition to increasing penalties on looting, toughening the parole process, and upholding qualified immunity (which protects police officers from civil liability).

Zeldin has made his plan to immediately seek to remove Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg from office a key campaign pillar, though there is also no definitive evidence that Bragg’s policies have had any impact on crime rates. “He’s refusing to enforce the law across the board,” Zeldin said of Bragg in an interview with NY1. “If you believe that DA stands for Defense Attorney instead of District Attorney, then go be a defense attorney.”

Gyory said that climate change and efforts to combat it, including a green energy transition, could still become a key issue in the race, especially as hurricane season continues amid the campaign. If severe weather ends up putting New Yorkers at risk, foreshadowing what may happen if more action is not taken to protect the climate, they may vote on the issue, he said.

About 6% of all respondents in the SurveyUSA poll said that climate change was the most important issue to them in deciding who to vote for in the November election, including 4% of Republicans, 8% of Democrats, and 5% of independents.

Here again, the two candidates take very different approaches.

Hochul is already running on her efforts around climate and the environment, having promised to achieve the goals of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act of 2019, which sets the state toward net-zero emissions by 2050. The state budget included $500 million for offshore wind energy infrastructure and $400 million in the Environmental Protection Fund, among other investments.

Hochul and the Legislature have also advanced $1.3 billion to increase the Clean Water, Clean Air, and the $4.2 billion Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act, which will go before voters on the general election ballot this fall for approval or disapproval. Hochul will likely focus her run in part on the push to have voters approve the bond act, which has earned her some support from environmental and climate activists. And the governor touts having signed recent bills to reduce greenhouse emissions by enacting new energy codes and implementing regulations affecting utilities and heating and cooling.

To lower energy costs and bolster the state economy, Zeldin proposes repealing the state ban on fracking for natural gas, approving new gas pipelines, and suspending energy taxes. When asked by Gotham Gazette to comment on the environmental impact of those initiatives and whether he had a plan to combat climate change or advance the state’s renewable energy mandates, his campaign did not provide a response.

Cost of Living and Affordable Housing
Polling conducted by the Regional Plan Association (RPA) and Global Strategy Group (GSG) of 800 residents in the New York Metro area in April showed the high cost of living – 46% – and the ability to find affordable housing – 28% – were top issues of concern for residents, trumped only by crime at 48%. It also found that a third of residents feared eviction – up to 42% among those that were Black and Latino – and that 67% supported policies like approving accessory dwelling units to address the area's dearth of housing.

To address inequality, the April RPA and GSG survey also found that residents prioritized addressing affordable housing (42%) and racial discrimination (24%), and increasing wages (33%). A majority of residents – 56% – also said they were worried about their financial situations, up from 47% in October, while 87% said that inflation has had some impact on their spending habits. 

A survey conducted by NYC Speaks in April– which was the largest known survey of New York City residents, with 62,000 respondents – found that city residents see affordable housing as the top public safety issue. When asked to pick three public safety priorities, the survey's respondents most often selected affordable housing and reducing homelessness. 

The recent Emerson College/PIX-11/The Hill poll found that housing affordability was somewhat less of a priority than other issues for voters when deciding how to cast their ballots, with only 3% of respondents saying it was their top issue, including 5% of Democrats and 1.6% of independents. No Republicans said that housing affordability was a priority.

Meanwhile, the poll found that inflation was the biggest consideration for voters across the board, with 38.4% of voters saying it was their biggest consideration when deciding how to vote, including 37.7% of independents, 54.1% of Republicans, and 31.7% of Democrats.

The SurveyUSA poll did not ask about cost of living and affordable housing, but did find that 33% of respondents said that inflation was the most important issue when deciding who to vote for in November, while 10% said that jobs were top of mind.

On the campaign trail, Hochul has touted her $25 billion, five-year affordable housing plan, building off Cuomo’s plans and passed in the April state budget, that she says will fund the creation or preservation of 100,000 units, including 10,000 supportive housing. 

Zeldin’s campaign did not respond to multiple requests to provide his assessment of New York’s affordable housing crisis and what he proposes to do about it if elected Governor. To lower the high cost of living in the state, he has instead focused on making what he calls an “across-the-board” tax cut, though he has not provided a plan outlining more specific details yet.

Political Reform
A March survey of 1,000 New Yorkers from John Zogby strategies suggests that voters are interested in seeing a pathway to structural change in Albany. The survey found that majorities support term limits for elected officials and a chance for third parties to nominate candidates in the general election, among other reforms, and that pluralities support allowing ballot referendums, open primaries, and more.

Of the respondents in the survey, 60% said that they are more likely to support a candidate who advocates term limits and that they wanted it to be easier for third parties to get on the ballot (those rules were significantly tightened in recent years under Cuomo, leading to several political parties losing their automatic ballot lines); 49% said they were more likely to support candidates seeking ballot referendums, while 43% said they were more likely to support candidates calling for open primaries. 

Some two-thirds of respondents said they wanted to see voters “more empowered than party leaders,” while 59% said they wanted to “abolish dark money in politics” – referring to political spendings from undisclosed sources, like nonprofits and shell companies. 51% of respondents said they supported ranked-choice voting, 54% (including 37% of Republicans) that they support no-excuse absentee voting, among support for other changes.

To end what he calls a "toxic culture" in state government, Zeldin offers a 10-point “Reform Albany" plan, which proposes enacting term limits for statewide officials, appointing a special prosecutor to investigate the Cuomo administration’s skewed reporting of nursing home deaths during the covid pandemic, and more.

Zeldin’s focus on government ethics and criticism of Hochul have been mocked by some as hypocritical given his allegiance to Trump, who has repeatedly undermined the country’s democracy, including with Zeldin’s help.

Hochul came into office promising to improve transparency and ethics, and she proposed instituting term limits for statewide officials but the measure did not make it into the adopted budget. While Hochul has almost universally been praised for ushering in a more collegial environment in state government than under Cuomo, she has also faced a number of questions about ethics and transparency.

Those have included the scandal around her initial Lieutenant Governor, Brian Benjamin, who resigned over federal corruption charges from his time as a state senator and Hochul did not properly vet before selecting. She also presided over a typically secretive state budget negotiation and secretly agreed to a major state incentive package for a new Buffalo Bills stadium.

Charles Gorrivan, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

Print Friendly and PDF

Editor's Choice

Gotham Gazette: New York Voters Approve $4.2 Billion Environmental Bond Act
New York Voters Approve $4.2 Billion Environmental Bond Act
Gotham Gazette: 
New York City Voters Approve Racial Justice Ballot Measures
New York City Voters Approve Racial Justice Ballot Measures
Gotham Gazette: Max Politics Podcast: A Winning Formula for Democrats in Tough New York Races
Max Politics Podcast: A Winning Formula for Democrats in Tough New York Races
Gotham Gazette: Max Politics Podcast Max Politics Podcast