Zeldin claims Dems will lose Albany supermajorities in November, helping him overturn bail reforms

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U.S. Rep. and Republican gubernatorial canddiate Lee Zeldin speaking to reporters about reversing New York’s bail reforms at his Manhattan campaign office. Monday, July 25, 2022.
Photo by Ethan Stark-Miller

Republican gubernatorial nominee and U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin said Monday, if he’s elected governor, he believes he’ll be able to reverse the state’s 2019 bail reforms because Democrats will lose their supermajorities in the state legislature in the November election.

“Right now there’s a supermajority in the Assembly and Senate of Democrats,” Zeldin said. “We can’t assume, we shouldn’t assume and frankly it would be inaccurate to assume that the current makeup of the Assembly and Senate will be the makeup of the Assembly and Senate in January. I believe that the supermajority in the Assembly and Senate are going to be broken. I believe the ‘cashless bail’ is going to be an issue, as it should be, in state legislative races. And in some of these districts that might be bluer, hopefully you have incoming state assemblymen and state senators in those districts who are willing to take a stronger stand.”

The congress member, who’s challenging Governor Kathy Hochul in the November general election, made the remarks while taking questions from reporters at his Manhattan campaign office Monday during a news conference where he again claimed New York’s bail reforms passed in 2019 – which eliminated cash bail for most non-violent misdemeanors and some felonies – are behind the surge in crime across the state.

Specifically, Zeldin alleged these reforms were responsible for the release of a man released just hours after he attacked him with a sharp object at a Monroe Country campaign rally last Thursday. The alleged assailant, David Jakubonis – who claimed he didn’t know Zeldin was a member of Congress and that he was drunk during the attack – was rearrested Saturday on federal assault charges.

According to experts interviewed in a report from the New York Post, Monroe County District District Attorney Sandra Doorley could’ve intervened and brought more serious charges – that would’ve been bail eligible – than the attempted second-degree assault charge brought by the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office. Doorley was a co-chair on Zeldin’s campaign and attended the rally. But Zeldin said she’s no longer a campaign co-chair and recused herself from the investigation.

Political consultant Hank Sheinkopf, told PoliticsNY it’s unlikely Democrats will lose enough members in either state legislative chamber to make the changes Zeldin is seeking even remotely possible.

“We’re a little more than three months away from Election Day, he must have a magic wand or crystal ball that no one else has,” Sheinkopf said of Zeldin’s prediction. “The legacy of [former Governor] Georgia Pataki is that when Pataki left office, Democratic registration versus Republican registration was up by a million. It’s increased exponentially since. So it’s hard to imagine that the Democrats will go down in lots of seats.”

But, Sheinkopf said, it is possible Republicans could gain enough Senate seats in more conservative suburbs like Long Island that the Democrats could lose their supermajority in the upper chamber.

“Crime is the issue. It’s not an impossibility,” Sheinkopf said. “But the Republicans don’t have any money to drive the argument. What they do have is people who are in the suburbs of New York City who are angry about crime. People are into the crime thing and that the Republicans are going on a roll in Nassau County and in Suffolk County. It’s quite likely that the senators there could lose. Some of them have announced they’re not running again for that reason. So, super majorities gone? It’s too early to predict that. Will the Democrats lose seats in the Senate? The answer is yes.”

There is pretty much no chance of the Democrats losing their supermajority in the Assembly, Sheinkopf said.

“Will their super majority ever be lost in the Assembly?” he said. “Yeah, when Jupiter hits Mars.”