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Pundit: With polls showing her leading, Gov. Kathy Hochul smart not to take challenger Lee Zeldin's bait

Zeldin slams Hochul's record as governor uses power of incumbency
Zeldin slams Hochul's record as governor uses power of incumbency 02:25

NEW YORK -- Gov. Kathy Hochul is using the power of incumbency as Republican Lee Zeldin keeps hammering away at her record.

As CBS2's Marcia Kramer reported, the governor has adopted what has often been called the "Rose Garden strategy."

Never underestimate the powers of incumbency. Hochul sure hasn't. She made full use of her office Tuesday as she strode into a subway maintenance yard with the head of the MTA to talk about new efforts to reduce crime on mass transit.

"What we show is as ridership increases, the number and instances of crimes decreases," Hochul said.

READ MOREAs attack ad season gets underway, new poll has Lee Zeldin cutting into Gov. Kathy Hochul's lead

It was a made-for-TV event from a governor who has tried to stay above the political fray and avoid the daily jabs from opponent Zeldin on crime and other hot-button issues. Instead, the governor, flush with campaign cash, is flooding the airwaves with commercials slamming Zeldin on abortion and his ties to former President Donald Trump.

"He's been called one of Trump's strongest allies. As a member of Congress he voted to overturn the presidential election, called the Supreme Court's ruling to ban abortion the correct decision," one ad says.

READ MOREHochul touts success of New York's new red flag laws as survey shows Zeldin gaining ground

For his part Zeldin is continuing to bash the governor on crime, demanding a special session of the Legislature to repeal bail reform and claiming New Yorkers are leaving the state because they don't feel safe.

"We need to restore that New York dream in this state. People who can believe that government is there to fight for them. People who believe that those who are in charge of the state are there to serve the public," Zeldin said.

He also was endorsed by former Republican Gov. Gorge Pataki.

"The laws in Albany are failing and need to be changed and there is one person who can change that, and that's the governor of New York. Lee Zeldin has said if he gets elected he's going to change the no-bail law to put the safety of the people ahead of the rights of the criminals," Pataki said.

Political consultant Hank Sheinkopf said Hochu'ls Rose Garden strategy not to engage is smart politics.

"It gives her the opportunity to avoid Lee Zeldin and not answer questions about crime or other questions where, frankly, she might have to have a real discussion with a Republican that she is beating right now," Sheinkopf said.

Zeldin has been pestering the governor to debate him. She has said she will, but time is running out. The election is less than two months away. Zeldin has accepted an invitation to debate on CBS2. There has been no word from Team Hochul.

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