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Debate Over Debates: Zeldin Rips Hochul's Offer Of Single Matchup Before Gubernatorial Election

Congressman Lee Zeldin and Gov. Kathy Hochul.
Congressman Lee Zeldin and Gov. Kathy Hochul. Photo Credit: US House/New York Governor's Office

The debate stage is finally set between New York’s two gubernatorial candidates, Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin and current Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul, though quarreling over the debates themselves drags on.

On Wednesday, Sept. 21, Hochul’s campaign committed to a single, one-hour televised debate between Zeldin, which will take place Tuesday, Oct. 25 at 7 p.m. at Pace University in Manhattan. It will air on Spectrum News NY1.

“Governor Hochul looks forward to debating on Oct. 25 and highlighting the clear contrast between her strong record of delivering results and Lee Zeldin’s extreme agenda,” campaign spokesman Jerrel Harvey said.

"While Zeldin continues to push his far-right plans to ban abortion and roll back commonsense gun safety laws, Governor Hochul remains committed to building a stronger, safer, and more affordable New York."

Zeldin, though, said he was “rejecting” the idea of holding just one debate before the election, calling Hochul’s proposal “unacceptable.”

In a video posted on Twitter Thursday, Sept. 22, the congressman pointed out that the Pace University debate will take place nearly a month after absentee ballots will begin to be mailed out.

“Whether you’re running for president of the United States or whether you're running for small local office, this is the time where voters deserve to find out where the candidates stand on absolutely anything,” Zeldin said.

He called on Hochul to accept additional debates on CBS2 and PIX11, and suggested that others be held in media markets across New York, including in the Capital Region and Buffalo.

“So, I’m calling on Governor Hochul, come out of hiding,” Zeldin said.

Hochul’s office later said she was holding firm on a single debate.

A former lieutenant governor and the state’s first female governor, Hochul is seeking her first full term in office after assuming the role in August 2021 when Andrew Cuomo resigned amid allegations of sexual misconduct.

Zeldin represents the state’s 1st Congressional District covering eastern Long Island.

He is a staunch supporter of former President Trump and was among the 147 Republicans in Congress who voted against certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election.

In early August 2022, a Siena College poll showed Hochul with a 14-point lead over Zeldin, 53 to 39 percent.

Among their parties, Hochul garnered support from 81 percent of Democrats while 84 percent of Republicans backed Zeldin.

However, pollsters found that independents slightly favored Zeldin, 44 to 42 percent.

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 8.

It will be the first time in over 80 years that no third-party candidates for governor will appear on the ballot after New York's Board of Elections rejected the petitions of all minor parties that put forward candidates.

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