Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin’s “amazing surge” has given him a “50/50” chance of unseating Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul on Nov. 8, according to former Long Island Rep. Peter King.
King, 78, offered the prediction during a discussion of the gubernatorial race on WABC 770 AM’s “Cats Roundtable” Sunday with host John Catsimatidis.
“This is an amazing surge that he’s generated here and to me it shows the strength of his campaign,” King said of polls showing New York’s race narrowing.
An average of recent polls compiled by FiveThirtyEight Friday gave the Democrat just a seven point lead in the overwhelmingly blue state as the race heads into the final stretch — and calculated the GOP contender had a 3% chance of pulling out an upset victory. Over the summer, there’d been a nearly 20 point difference between Hochul and Zeldin.
King said Zeldin narrowed the gap by focusing on crime, and blamed Democratic state officials for failing to keep criminals off the street with passage of controversial bail reform.
“I think some of the ideologues are caught up in this fantasy that if you want law and order somehow that makes you a racist,” the former homeland security House chairman said.
“The tragic irony in all that is the people who are being hurt the most are the minorities,” he said, noting the crime increase is felt most in neighborhoods of color.
King said Hochul’s downplaying the bail reform law during her lone debate performance showed she’s “out of touch” with New Yorkers.
He argued anyone who commits a crime should either be sent to a mental asylum or locked behind bars, and championed Zeldin as a tough on crime candidate.
“The courts should exert themselves and require them to get mental examinations, mental treatment and if they’re not temporarily insane, or insane or crazy at all, mentally ill at all, then they should be put in jail,” he said.
Murders were down by 14% in New York City compared with last year, but all other major crimes were up — including a 33% rise in robberies, police statistics show.
A study last month from the New York Division of Criminal Justice Services found New York state’s rate of criminal recidivism dropped following implementation of the 2019 law.
“I think Lee Zeldin showed the other night that he’s the person that can make New York safe and can keep jobs and businesses in New York and bring New York back,” King said. “It’s going to be a tough effort.”