Gov. Kathy Hochul’s inaction on the crime crisis enveloping the Big Apple is allowing Republican challenger Lee Zeldin to turn the key issue to his advantage, political experts said Friday.

Hochul bucked Democratic ally Mayor Eric Adams earlier this week when she rejected his request for a special session of the Legislature to address what he calls the “catch, release, repeat” treatment of unrepentant criminals under the state’s controversial bail-reform law.

“She has a real, real issue now,” a veteran campaign consultant told The Post.

“She’s getting killed on this and she has a real vulnerability because she doesn’t want to lose the left, so she’s not going to do anything on bail reform right now.”

The consultant also said of underdog Zeldin, “This is a great time for him. He’s getting this momentum like he’s never had before.”

A Democratic strategist said Hochul was trying to walk a fine line on crime because “she’s a genuine moderate.”

Crime has continued to rise in New York City.
Hochul has reportedly not taken too hard of a stance on crime due to being a moderate.
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“If Kathy calls a special session and it fails, it’s an issue,” the strategist said. “She’s worried if she forces them to go back into session and it’s unsuccessful and blows up in her face, it opens her up to criticism from the Republicans.”

Veteran Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf said Hochul’s recent speech at the state police chiefs’ convention — where she voiced opposition to the “defund the police” movement — showed she’s aware of her vulnerability on issues of law and order.

The most recent NYPD statistics show serious crimes were up this year through Sunday in every category except murder, with the overall rate 36.9% higher compared to the same period last year.

“Hochul has to watch this play out and find things that take eyes away from the problem,” Sheinkopf said.

“She has to keep finding opportunities like that, that keep her directly out of the fray and that deflect Zeldin’s criticisms on crime.”

Lee Miringoff, the longtime director of the Marist Poll, said public concerns about surging crime “may not transform the overall tenor of the election, but it’s a fire that she wants to put out.”

“It is a potential wound for her and she doesn’t want to go anywhere near it,” he said. “The attention was not in her talking about defunding the police, the attention was in what the mayor asked her to do.”

The state's bail reform is seeing criminals released and then immediately re-arrested.
Zeldin may be able to weaponize the state’s growing crime problem against Hochul.
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Miringoff added: “Crime is the topic that Zeldin wants on the agenda. That’s what he would like the issue to be: talking about crime. While the nuances get lost in the back and forth, it works for his favor.”

In a prepared statement, Zeldin said, “Instead of sticking her head in the sand, Hochul should stop making excuses and ignoring reality.”

“She needs to actually listen to the people dealing with these issues in their communities — like Mayor Adams — and take bold action to repeal cashless bail, overhaul ‘raise the age,’ and much more,” he added.

Hochul’s campaign declined to address the experts’ commentary but said that “Lee Zeldin has no credibility on public safety.”

“His extreme stances would put more guns on our streets and make it easier to carry firearms in places like schools, subways and grocery stores,” Hochul spokesman Jerrel Harvey said in an email.

“The facts are clear, Zeldin is dangerously out of touch and would make New York less safe.”



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