US Metro

How Gov. Kathy Hochul used ‘Rose Garden’ tactics as Lee Zeldin attacks

A Thursday event at JFK airport highlighted how Gov. Kathy Hochul is leveraging her day job against Republican rival Lee Zeldin while dodging his attacks on rising crime, inflation and her dodging on debates before the Nov. 8 election.

“We got to make sure this woman gets in this office for good,” NBA legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson said at an official Hochul event touting the groundbreaking of a new terminal at JFK International Airport.

Similar sentiments from labor honcho Gary LaBarbera showed how the powers of incumbency are boosting Hochul’s profile while adding additional fuel to accusations that her campaign is crossing lines.

“A new day, a new way Kathy Hochul is illegally abusing taxpayer resources to boost her failing campaign. Voters are fed up with Kickback Kathy’s corruption machine and she’s going to need real ‘magic’ to stop voters from throwing her out of office,” GOP state Chair Nick Langworthy said of the electoral assist from the Hall of Fame Laker on Thursday.

Gov. Kathy Hochul
Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks at an event at JFK airport. Kevin P. Coughlin / State of New

A rapid testing company controlled by donors to her campaign had gotten paid twice as much as other vendors while collecting $637 million in state funds, the Times Union reported Thursday morning in another alleged pay-to-play scheme involving Hochul.

Representatives of her office and campaign did not respond to requests for comment Thursday though both have denied wrongdoing in the past.

The airport event was one of many the governor has hosted in recent weeks touting accomplishments in office while surrogates focus on Zeldin, who her campaign has labeled extreme on issues like abortion, gun rights and the issue of the legitimacy of 2020 election results.

Lee Zeldin speaks to reporters on September 6.
Lee Zeldin speaks to reporters on Sept 6. Lev Radin/Pacific Press/

“[Zeldin] poses a very real threat to our fundamental rights and democracy,” Erie County Democratic Party Chair Jeremy Zellner thundered Thursday as the state party kicked off a statewide tour on Hochul’s behalf.

Hochul has channeled other gubernatorial powers of incumbency in recent months as well, like using state-owned aircraft to fly home to Buffalo after a campaign event and using money from a state authority to fund projects important to voters she needs this fall.

A poll released last week showed Hochul ahead by just four points though other surveys have suggested she has a much bigger lead over Zeldin, who faces disadvantages with fundraising and party registration against the Democratic nominee.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis lent his campaign a helping hand Thursday with a fundraising pitch on his behalf, reigniting a feud with Hochul in the process.

Her packed public schedule as governor comes while she continues to limit her engagements with Zeldin on the campaign trail, similar to how former President Bill Clinton once kept his foes at arm’s length, limiting their ability to inflict damage.

“The governor gets to enjoy the Rose Garden strategy as the incumbent. And this Rose Garden happens to extend down the NYS Thruway to JFK,” political consultant Jake Dilemani told The Post.

With two months to go until the final votes are cast, Zeldin is keeping his sights set on Hochul — who after prodding has said she would debate him but without naming any specific time or places — while keeping up the attacks against her over controversial topics like bail reform and congestion pricing.

Hochul walks to helicopter
Hochul departs in a NY State Police helicopter on her way to Albany on Aug. 10. Taidgh Barron/

Hochul, meanwhile, has avoided the Republican challenger while keeping her cards close on testing topics like repealing qualified immunity for cops, which Zeldin opposes.

“Did Magic add any opinion on what he thinks about rising crime in the streets under Kathy Hochul’s watch, congestion pricing, or attacks on non-public education? What’s his thoughts on Hochul refusing to accept any debate requests, rising energy prices, New York leading the entire nation in population loss, or District Attorneys like Alvin Bragg refusing to enforce the law?” Zeldin campaign spokeswoman Katie Vincentz said Thursday.

“To save our state, Hochul’s Gotta Go!” she added.

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Jasper Chinedu (Sparobanks) is a Computer Program with over 5 years experience. He holds a Higher National Deploma in Computer Science from the Federal Polytechnic Nekede, Owerri. He has built lots of Mobile APPS, Website of all kind, including this Website. Jasper is a Chief Editor and Webmaster at THETALK.NG. Email: [email protected]