Gov. Kathy Hochul is accusing her Republican opponent of voting against the best interest of New Yorkers, as Congress took up landmark legislation this summer tackling guns, abortion, and competition with China.
Rep. Lee Zeldin secured the Republican nomination for governor at the end of June, just as Democrats on Capitol Hill teed up a litany of votes on culture issues. The legislation was in part a response to the blockbuster Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade as well as recent mass shootings.
Zeldin, like most of his House Republican colleagues, voted “no” on legislation to:
- ban semi-automatic weapons
- guarantee access to contraception and abortion across the nation
- spend more than $200 billion to make the U.S. more competitive with China and boost the domestic manufacture of computer chips — bill that proponents say could be a boon for Upstate New York’s economy
One reason Democrats were eager to hold these votes was to force Republican candidates like Zeldin to choose between upsetting Republican base voters and more moderate swing voters.
In a statement, Hochul’s campaign accused Zeldin of “choosing the far-right fringes of his party.”
“From access to birth control to protecting New Yorkers from gun violence to creating more manufacturing jobs, Zeldin continues to vote against widely supported legislation, instead pushing his extremist agenda that puts New Yorkers in harm’s way,” said campaign spokeswoman Jen Goodman.
A recent poll from Siena College shows protections for abortion access and new restrictions on semi-automatic weapons to be highly popular in New York.
Zeldin’s “got to try to ask voters to overlook areas in which they do not agree with him. Abortion being one, aspects of gun safety being another,” said Don Levy, the director of the Siena College Research Institute.
In his own statement about his voting record, Zeldin appeared to embrace that strategy, accusing Hochul of being “totally out of touch with New Yorkers who are hitting their breaking point.” Crime and the economy, he argued, are voters’ top concerns.
Zeldin also defended his vote on the Democrats’ contraception measure, arguing it would “result in medical providers being forced to provide post-conception termination services, even if it violates their religious beliefs.”
He co-sponsored a different bill that, he says, would safeguard access to contraception without infringing on religious liberties.
Spectrum News NY1 did follow-up with Zeldin’s team, asking if he could explain some of his other votes, such as his vote against the CHIPS bill or for the same-sex marriage protections. His campaign and office did not respond in time for publication.