By Eva Fu and Frank Fang
LONG ISLAND, N.Y.—Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Oct. 29 told a dense crowd of New Yorkers that Republican gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin can turn their crime-ridden state into a “law-and-order” state just like Florida.
“Florida is a law-and-order state. I am a law-and-order governor. If Lee Zeldin gets into office, New York will become a law-and-order state, and he will be a law-and-order governor,” DeSantis told over 1,000 Zeldin supporters at a “Get Out the Vote” rally at the New York congressman’s native Long Island Saturday evening.
DeSantis, who is widely expected to win a second term as Florida governor, said New York needs a governor who will “stand up for the men and women of law enforcement” and stop “coddling” criminals, such as releasing them early from prison.
As for New York’s crime problem, DeSantis said it is “totally self-inflicted.”
“You cut police budgets, you do things like eliminate cash bail, and you have rogue prosecutors who won’t even enforce laws that they disagree with,” DeSantis continued. “Of course, you’re gonna have streets that are less safe. Of course, you’re gonna have people that aren’t able to do the basics without fearing for their safety.”
Crime in New York City jumped 15.2 percent, with 11,057 crimes in September compared to 9,596 in the same month last year, according to NYPD data. Burglary, auto theft, and grand larceny were the categories of crime that saw the biggest increases, rising 22.7 percent, 21.5 percent, and 21.3 percent, respectively, compared to September 2021.
Crime is one of the biggest concerns for New York voters. According to a recent poll by WNYT-TV/SurveyUSA, 35 percent of the respondents said inflation was the most important issue to them, followed by crime at 18 percent and abortion at 15 percent.
The poll also found Zeldin trailing New York Democrat Gov. Kathy Hochul, who is seeking her first full term, 41 percent to 47 percent.
Polling aggregation site RealClearPolitics currently ranks New York’s governor race as a “toss-up.”
“We need to focus more on supporting the rights of the victims of crime and not be so concerned with the rights of the criminal,” DeSantis added. “Lee Zeldin will not coddle these people. He will hold them accountable and you will be safer as a result.”
In addition to fighting crime, DeSantis said Zeldin would be able to do what’s right for New Yorkers in terms of COVID-19 policies, energy decisions, and education issues.
“If you have Lee as governor, he’s going to put the kibosh on any attempt to impose medical mandates,” DeSantis said.
New York has not had a Republican governor since 2006. If Zeldin is elected in November, it “will be the 21st-century version of the shot heard around the world,” the Florida governor said.
“So I think this is an important choice for the state of New York,” DeSantis added. “Do you want to continue down the path that you’re on—a path that’s seen you hemorrhage people, wealth, you name it? Or do you want to try a different direction?”
‘Save Our State’
Speaking before DeSantis, Zeldin said the November election presents an “incredible opportunity to be able to save our state.”
If elected, Zeldin said the first thing he would do would be to remove Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, for his refusal to enforce the law. Bragg is one of several prosecutors linked to progressive billionaire donor George Soros.
Zeldin added he would declare a crime emergency and end cashless bail.
“We want a government that isn’t passing pro-criminal laws. We want district attorneys that actually do their jobs and enforce the law, and we want to back, unapologetically, our selfless, dedicated men and women in blue,” Zeldin said.
He recalled a recent shooting outside his Long Island home on Oct. 9 while his two 16-year-old daughters were in the house.
“You want to know why this is so important to me, to fight crime?” Zeldin said. “These two girls were at home doing homework at their kitchen table when my house just three weekends ago became the site of a drive-by gang shooting.”
He also called on his supporters to vote for other Republican candidates—Alison Esposito for New York’s lieutenant governor, Michael Henry for the state’s attorney general, Paul Rodriguez for the state’s Comptroller, and Joe Pinion for the U.S. Senate.
Pinion is challenging current Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) in New York’s senate race. The Cook Political Report currently rates the Senate race as “solid Democrat.”
‘Red Wave in New York’
Participants in the Saturday rally told The Epoch Times they were unsatisfied with how things were going in New York. Several had been Democrats until recently. Orline Borno, who taught history in a Queens high school for 26 years until losing her job over the vaccine mandate, said she would cast her first Republican vote for Zeldin this November.
Phil Boyle, who was a state senator representing New York’s 4th State Senate District until Oct. 21, said the escalating crime situation in New York is “not just a perception” but a reality.
“Because many of us on the island, we read the papers, we watch the news, it seems like every single day, there’s another random act of violence in New York City,” Boyle said.
Hochul had recently announced actions to crack down on crime, but Boyle said it was too late.
“She had plenty of opportunities,” Boyle said. “Governor Hochul has been governor for a year,” but “made no effort” to repeal bail reform and increase criminal penalties on violent defendants.
He quoted Hochul’s comments on crime during a debate with Zeldin on Oct. 25. “Anyone who commits a crime under our laws, especially with the change we made to bail, has consequences. I don’t know why that’s so important to you. All I know is that we could do more. We could do more,”
“Obviously, it’s not a priority of Governor Hochul, but it’s very much a priority of Zeldin’s,” Boyle said.
John Sandusky, a military veteran and a retired police officer, said he didn’t like the direction his state and country were going.
“I’m here to support people that I believe embrace American values and my values,” Sandusky said. “I think Lee is the Republican and conservative best chance to win the governorship since George Pataki was there.” Pataki was the Republican governor from 1995 to 2006.
Hochul was part of the Cuomo administration that was “incompetent in their handling of the COVID-19 crisis, and I think it’s time to change,” Sandusky added. “Decades of Democratic leadership in this state has not made it better.”
Alix Louca, 53, a gym owner, said she was “coming for patriotism.”
“It’s very important that we bring some common sense back into government,” Louca said. As a parent, she hopes to make decisions for her children on how they should live.
Boyle said DeSantis’s decision to come to New York spoke volumes about the energy of Zeldin’s campaign.
“Many of us would never have thought we would have the popular governor of Florida to come up here for a rally for Republicans in blue New York, but that just shows that on election day, we’re going to have a red wave in New York State,” Boyle said.
“I’m very excited. I’ve been to many, many political rallies in my 30 years in government, this is the largest one I’ve ever seen by far,” he said. “The energy is palpable.”