After weeks of dodging questions from reporters and her gubernatorial opponent Rep. Lee Zeldin on whether she’d debate him in the run-up to the general election, Governor Kathy Hochul finally agreed to take the stage against her GOP rival one time before voters head to the polls Nov. 8.
“Governor Hochul looks forward to highlighting the clear contrast between her strong record of delivering results and Lee Zeldin’s extreme agenda,” Hochul campaign spokesperson Jerrel Harvey said in a statement Wednesday. “While Zeldin continues to push his far-right plans to ban abortion and roll back commonsense gun safety laws, Governor Hochul remains committed to building a stronger, safer, and more affordable New York.”
But Zeldin hastily rejected Hochul’s offer to join her in the Spectrum News NY1 debate, during a virtual press conference Thursday. He blasted Hochul for the debate’s timing, it’s scheduled for Oct. 25 – three days before early voting starts on Oct. 29. And the fact she chose to do it with Spectrum, because those with other cable providers won’t be able to watch it on their TVs.
“Whether you’re running for president of the United States, whether you’re running for a small local office, this is the time where voters deserve to find out where the candidates stand on absolutely anything,” Zeldin said. “And one hour, one debate, over a month after the start of absentee voting is unacceptable and I reject that.”
Zeldin also renewed his call for Hochul to debate him in multiple media markets across the state before the election.
“I’m calling on governor Hochul to start debating right now,” Zeldin said. “We should have multiple debates throughout the state. They should be accessible on broadcast TV. And New Yorkers, whether they have any type of a subscription service, I think that it’s important that all New Yorkers are able to see multiple debates. And that there’s more time allocated for these debates, so that we can get to more topics. So, I’m calling on Governor Hochul, come out of hiding.”
The GOP congress member had previously agreed to two other debates with the TV stations PIX-11 and CBS-2 New York.
According to a published report, Hochul’s campaign didn’t budge Thursday in the face of Zeldin declining to participate in the one debate she agreed to.