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'Never Been In Question': NY Gov. Kathy Hochul Says She Will Debate Lee Zeldin

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

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has committed to a public debate with her Republican gubernatorial opponent, Lee Zeldin, putting to rest accusations by the Congressman that Hochul was too “scared” to do so.

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Speaking at a press briefing Monday morning, Sept. 19, Hochul, a Democrat, was asked by a reporter whether she would debate Zeldin ahead of the general election.

“I’ve said all along I will,” she responded. “I said that the first time I was asked months ago. That’s never been in question.”

Hochul said her campaign would be announcing its fall debate and event schedule “by the end of the week.”

Monday’s comments came shortly after Zeldin put out a tweet implying that the governor was afraid of debating him in public. 

“It’s September 19 and mail-in ballots start going out in four days, but @KathyHochul still has not yet accepted ANY debate requests,” Zeldin said.

“She wants people to find out where she stands AFTER they vote, but it doesn’t work like that,” he continued.

He ended the tweet by saying, “Come out, come out wherever you are #ScaredyKat!”

Zeldin has called for multiple debates to be held in different locations across New York.

Hochul did not specify how many debates she would participate in or where they would be held.

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 will be held 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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