In debating Lee Zeldin for governor of New York, Kathy Hochul kept stressing abortion, guns, and Trump instead of her track record

In last night's gubernatorial debate in New York, Kathy Hochul followed the Democrats' losing national strategy of ignoring the reality of their own policy failures and instead stressing abortion, gun control, and a man who is not on the ballot or in office: Donald Trump.

In a state that normally hands statewide races to Democrats, polls are now "uncomfortably close" in the governor's race.  

Michael Goodwin of the New York Post, called it a "decisive victory" for Zeldin:

This wasn't a knockout, but a victory on points because he made specific and realistic promises to improve life in New York. Hochul, meanwhile, mostly played defense.

Even when she played it well, she never really laid out a vision of what four more years would like and how they would be different from now.

In an election where voters all across the spectrum demand big changes, any hint that you are satisfied with the status quo is a loser, and that's why she failed.

The debate was lively from the start, with Zeldin looking over-caffeinated and Hochul nervous. The moderators did a good job of peppering them with substantive questions and controlling the clock.

Although one hour in one showdown was not nearly enough to give voters a complete picture, those who watched the limited broadcast saw a fair microcosm of the campaign.

Left-wing media saw the match as more even and spun Zeldin as negatively as they could.  For example, the Buffalo News:

The two candidates brought contrasting temperaments to the debate, with Zeldin repeatedly sounding the alarm while Hochul remained calm and assured. More than once, she noted that he had sound bites, while she had sound policy.

Crime is a huge issue in New York State — Zeldin has been attacked onstage, and there was a drive-by shooting at his  house — but all that Hochul could manage was stressing gun control, even though New York State already has draconian limits on Second Amendment rights.  As the pro-Hochul New York Times put it:

Mr. Zeldin largely stuck to tough-on-crime policy points that he honed during his primary campaign. He forcefully criticized Ms. Hochul for opposing further revisions to the state's bail law and called for changes to laws that reformed the juvenile justice system and the parole system in the state.

Mr. Zeldin also doubled down repeatedly on a vow that, if elected, he would immediately remove the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, from office, accusing Mr. Bragg of failing to enforce the state's criminal code.

Ms. Hochul sought to redirect attention to her efforts to stem the flow of illegal guns and noted that she had already tightened the bail reforms earlier this year. Those efforts, she said, had already proven fruitful.

Recent widely seen video of a man being shoved onto subway tracks (no guns involved) by a career criminal doesn't help Hochul's case.

The complete debate can be viewed here.

Photo credit: YouTube screen grab.

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