Conservative Dems back Zeldin over Hochul in N.Y. governor’s race

Conservative Dems back Zeldin over Hochul in N.Y. governor's race

ALBANY — A coalition of conservative Democrats are in Lee Zeldin’s corner.

The Republican gubernatorial candidate rolled out endorsements Monday from a small group of current and former lawmakers who say they’re no fans of Gov. Hochul, a fellow Democrat.

“The way Gov. Hochul is running the city and the state is a disaster,” Rev. Ruben Diaz Sr., a former member of the state Senate and City Council with a history of homophobic comments, said during a press conference with Zeldin outside of City Hall.

Diaz and the other less-than-liberal supporters of the Long Island congressman, including Council Member Robert Holden and former Assembly Member Dov Hikind, slammed Hochul over crime and bail reform.

Several said disagreements with Hochul’s approach to public safety pushed them to support Zeldin.

“We’re headed in the wrong direction and the policies of this governor have really made this come to a point where this isn’t an option for many voters in New York,” Holden said. “And as a Democrat, a lifelong Democrat — 50 years as a Democrat — the handwriting is on the wall: Lee Zeldin is the option for voters in New York State.”

Hikind, who once compared homosexuality to incest and courted controversy in 2013 after photos surfaced of him wearing blackface and an Afro wig for the Jewish holiday of Purim, also came out in support of Zeldin.

The group is not the first to publicly cross the aisle and come out against Hochul as she seeks a full term in office. Last month, the Brooklyn-based New Era Democrats said they backed Zeldin’s bid.

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The club, which had supported former mayor Bill de Blasio, has a history of rallying behind GOP candidates, including endorsing Rudy Giuliani and George Pataki for mayor and governor, respectively, in the 1990s.

Mainline Dems, meanwhile, continue to argue that Zeldin is an extremist whose vocal support of former President Donald Trump makes him unfit to run the state.

“Zeldin’s extreme anti-abortion views and dangerous loyalty to Donald Trump make him wrong for New York,” State Democratic Party chairman Jay Jacobs said in a statement touting a new Emerson College/Pix 11/The Hill poll showing Hochul with a 15-point lead ahead of the general election.

“The stakes could not be higher for New Yorkers this November,” Jacobs added.

Separately, the New York State AFL-CIO, which has endorsed Hochul, released results of another poll on Monday that found the incumbent governor ahead by 15 points.

“Our poll confirms what anyone paying attention already knows: Gov. Hochul is delivering for hardworking New Yorkers, and the governor is in a strong position for victory in November,” said Mario Cilento, president of the union. “That said, the union movement will take nothing for granted, and we will do all we can to talk to our members and make sure they get to the polls to vote for Gov. Hochul.”

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The governor’s campaign recently released several ads painting Zeldin as “extreme and dangerous,” focusing on his connections to Trump, opposition to abortion access and his vote to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

The ad blitz comes as both candidates are ramping up spending ahead of the Nov. 8 election — and days after one poll showed Zeldin gaining some ground in the race.

A survey conducted by the Trafalgar Group showed Hochul with just a 4% advantage over Zeldin, a much closer margin than the double-digit lead seen in most other polls.

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