Gov. Kathy Hochul knocked her Republican opponent Lee Zeldin and congressional candidate Marc Molinaro for not reflecting the values of most New Yorkers when it comes to labor, environmental, LGBTQ+ and abortion rights, and that they belong in Florida.
The comments immediately drew the ire of Zeldin and Molinaro as voters later on Tuesday are set to select nominees for congressional and state Senate races as well as decide who should fill Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado's House seat in the Hudson Valley.
At a Monday evening rally for Democrat Pat Ryan, Hochul said the elections were about safeguarding democracy.
"We're here to say the era of Trump and Zeldin and Molinaro -- just jump on a bus and head down to Florida where you belong, OK?" Hochul said, according to a transcript of the rally. "Get out of town." Hochul said the Republican candidates do not "represent our values."
"You are not New Yorkers," she said. "We come from a long line of people who fought for women's rights that happened here first. We fought for environmental justice that happened here first. We fought for labor rights that happened here first. We fought for LGBTQ rights that happened here first."
Polling has shown majorities of voters support a range of these issues -- ones Democrats hope to capitalize on in an otherwise challenging political environment this year. The comments immediately drew criticism from Republicans on Monday night.
Zeldin posted a video on Twitter calling Hochul's comments a "psycho demand."
Molinaro in a statement compared Hochul's comments to former Gov. Andrew Cuomo's declaration that extreme conservatives "have no place in the state of New York."
“Governor Hochul - the Governor of the entire State of New York - at a rally with my opponent nodding along sounded exactly like Andrew Cuomo,” said Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinario. “Disagree with their policies, disagree with them and you have no place here. This is yet another example of how arrogant Kathy Hochul, Pat Ryan and liberals have become. Let me be very clear: Everyone who lives here regardless of your party or beliefs is a New Yorker."
Molinaro and Ryan face each other in a special election on Tuesday to represent the Hudson Valley district vacated by Delgado this spring.