5 things to watch out for in today’s Spectrum News 1 debate

Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul and her Republican opponent, Rep. Lee Zeldin, will face off Tuesday night at 7 p.m. in what is expected to be their only televised general election debate on Spectrum News 1 and NY1 at Pace University.

Polls have shown the race has narrowed in recent weeks as issues such as public safety and crime return to the forefront of the race. But there will also be other issues for which candidates will answer, including voters’ concerns about the economy and threats to democracy.

Here are five things to look out for in tonight’s debate.

1. crime time.

Zeldin has focused almost exclusively on public safety issues in the final weeks of the campaign, promising to declare a state of emergency over the matter and suspend recently approved criminal code changes relating to bail, juvenile justice, evidence and the use of solitary confinement.

But Hochul has sought to shore up her campaign on the issue over the past week as polls show more competitive racing. She has touted safety for subways, more state policing and efforts to shoot illegal guns off the streets.

Crime raises overlapping concerns related to public transport and the economy. Which argument will resonate more with voters: Hochul’s push to ban illegal guns from the streets of New York or Zeldin’s efforts to repeal the bail law?

2. It’s the economy.

With inflation rising and the pain at the pump lingering, almost everyone is concerned with the health of the national economy. A nationwide economic slump could hurt New York and its budget plans for next year.

Hochul has pointed to this year’s budget, which puts money aside in the state’s ‘rainy day’ fund as a bulwark against lost tax revenue and still saves money for health care and education. Zeldin has promised to cut taxes across the board in a high-tax state.

There’s very little the state government can do to control the macro economy, but New York is particularly vulnerable during a recession because of the state’s reliance on Wall Street for taxpayers’ money. How candidates frame their plans to prepare for a financial downturn could prove crucial for voters who have identified the economy as the top issue.

3. Jobs.

New York is struggling to fully restore jobs lost in the first few weeks of the pandemic and the subsequent closure of businesses and public gatherings. The state lost about 2 million jobs in total, and projections show it may be several years before they start growing again.

Hochul can advertise Micron’s plans to bring high-tech chip manufacturing jobs to central New York. Zeldin has pledged to push for an end to the state’s statutory hydrofracking ban and allow gas drilling in the southern plain.

We’re in a tight job market now, but given the economic clouds, they could be expensive once again.

4. Abortion.

Hochul has tried to elevate voters not only to her support for abortion rights, but also to Zeldin’s opposition. Zeldin, meanwhile, himself edited out a TV advertisement in which he insisted he would not change the existing law in New York.

The abortion debate was reignited this year when the US Supreme Court overturned abortion Roe v. calf decision and sends the matter back to the state governments.

New York’s abortion laws have been expanded in recent years, and Hochul has pledged money to help women from other states where laws have become more restrictive and allow them to have the procedure in New York.

But polls have also shown that abortion has been removed from the list of top issues for voters. In a close and divisive race, the opinion of voters – particularly suburban women – on abortion rights could still be a resonant concern.

5. Trump.

Zeldin had been a Trump ally, garnered his support in the race, and held a fundraiser at his New Jersey resort. But he also kept Trump at arm’s length and the two didn’t fight together.

Hochul’s campaign has highlighted Zeldin’s opposition to the certification of some state electors in the 2020 presidential campaign and has sought to tie him to the broader Jan. 6 Capitol riots that Zeldin has condemned.

Have New York voters backed away from former President Donald Trump? How nationalized has the New York governor’s race really become? In a polarized environment, “threats to democracy” mean very different things to different voters.

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