Hochul plays cool as Suozzi and Williams attack in first New York governor’s debate

Williams made impassioned arguments from Hochul’s left that New York should have a governor who would take dramatic steps to prioritize tackling gun violence as a global priority. Suozzi has criticized Hochul from a more moderate stance on almost every occasion pointing out the inconsistencies he sees in his commitments to ethics and public safety.

And Hochul held a cold defense as he refuted the hostilities Suozzi and Williams have launched for months, at one point saying “I’d be happy to” respond to a beard from Suozzi about his first choice for lieutenant governor, Brian Benjamin, who resigned in April after being arrested and charged in a federal corruption case.

She only attacked once: when Suozzi suggested there was “no daylight” among the trio on protecting women’s access to abortion. Hochul pointed to Suozzi’s initial support years ago for the Hyde Amendmentwhich barred federal funds — including Medicaid services — from covering abortion care.

“There’s so much daylight between our positions that I have to find a pair of sunglasses,” she said. “I’ll tell you that I don’t think the right to abortion should be restricted to wealthy women only.”

“I don’t know what the governor is talking about,” Suozzi said, pointing to his A grade from Planned Parenthood.

There were few cross talks or active arguments, but Williams and Suozzi remained sharp in their criticisms of Hochul’s short nine months in office, particularly the deal she struck with little notice or communication. legislative to disburse a record public subsidy of $850 million combined. county and state dollars for a new Buffalo Bills stadium in his hometown. An April poll showed voters disapproved 63% to 24% of this particular spending plan.

“She is committed to making this the most ethical and transparent government in New York State history,” Williams said. “And that just didn’t happen.”

Their boldest moments were at the start of the hour to discuss how the state would tackle spikes in violent crime – which was shaping up to be the top election issue of the season even before the mass shootings in Buffalo. , Uvalde, Texas and Tulsa – and now been crushed in a muddled discussion that includes gun violence, mental health and state bail laws.

More recently, a Spectrum News NY1/Siena College Poll conducted in the last week of May found that 70% of New York City residents felt less safe now than they did before the pandemic began, and 76% were somewhat or very worried about be victims of a violent crime.

Hochul had the benefit of highlighting steps she has already taken — enacted Monday — to strengthen New York’s gun laws.

But Williams said it was too little, too late, as he highlighted his years of advocating for holistic, community-focused approaches after listing the names of classmates he attended high school with in the 1990s. and who died of armed violence.

On the other side, Suozzi said that Hochul had not taken a bold enough position to crack down on people who have proven criminal records and falsely claimed that Hochul had not pushed for changes to the laws on the state bail — something Republicans and moderate Democrats have said is necessary. tightening for public safety purposes – in the legislative session that just ended.

“She says she cares about crime, but does nothing to fix bail reform,” he said.

Hochul and the state legislature changed laws to give judges more discretion over when to set bail for certain people, but did not implement a “dangerousness” standard, which lawmakers say progressives (and Williams), is unfairly biased towards the minority. communities, but which Suozzi supported.

Hochul replied, “No governor has done more—in less time—than me to address gun violence.”

The three candidates signed up for another debate on June 16.

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