Clay and Buck

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Lee Zeldin to C&B: NY’s Ready to Party Like It’s 1994

2 Nov 2022

CLAY: We head up to the Empire State now where we are joined by Lee Zeldin, who is giving Kathy Hochul all she wanted and more in the race for the New York governor’s seat. And, Lee, we appreciate you joining us. You’ve been on with us a few times before. Congratulations on the momentum. What needs to happen between now and Election Day for you to win and kick Kathy Hochul out of the governor’s mansion in Albany?

REP. ZELDIN: We need everybody to vote. And, you know, it seems so simple, but we’re going into a midterm, and we need presidential-level turnout wherever we can possibly pull that out. That means that everybody needs to tell everyone they know, taking nothing for granted. Friends, family, neighbors, strangers, coworkers — on social media, emails, texts, word of mouth — for the next six days. These are long days. If you start early and end late and actually dedicate the bandwidth to doing this… You know, you might think, “As one person, what kind of a difference can I make?’

This is all about what everybody does together and how that adds up. So, there are millions of New Yorkers counting on you, whoever’s out there listening to do your part. We’re all counting on each other. We have all the momentum. We have all of the energy. We have the issues on our side. They said that this was impossible. This race right now is a dead heat. Trafalgar yesterday morning said we’re up 1. Let’s call it a dead heat.

We need to make sure… (audio drop) I mean, in-person early voting has already started. Take nothing for granted. Maybe even the mentality should be think like they’re even behind. And if we close this out strong, we’re going to be winning this race on Tuesday, making history. New York is at a crossroads right here. Last time we were at this place, 1994, New York elected George Pataki. And with all apologies to Prince, I think New York is ready to party like it’s 1994.

CLAY: (laughing)

BUCK: I think you’re on to something there, Lee. It’s Buck. And, as you know, I was born and raised in the city and have been a lifelong New Yorker, and I know what it’s like when it turns around. That was one of the things that was so amazing about New York City — and then, of course, the ramifications statewide — was that when you had better governance, when you had backing for police, when you had a pro-business climate, when you had safe streets, it just had reverberations and you could feel it.

You were aware of it. I was aware of it, certainly, from the early nineties into the early 2000. The transformation. I think you can be a part of that, the beginning of that statewide and for our listeners at WGY Albany, WHAM Rochester, WSYR Syracuse, WLVL Buffalo, and of course, WOR NYC and other stations — I can’t name all of them all across the state because we’ve got so many. What is it exactly that Kathy Hochul stands for when it comes to the crime issue? Is it that there is no crime problem or that Democrats are doing a great job on the crime problem or that talking about the crime problem is a problem in itself? I’m not clear on it. I’m wondering if you could help elucidate this.

REP. ZELDIN: Well, last week in the debate when I was talking about the need to be locking up the bad guys, she could have taken it as a hint, a clue, and said, “Oh, yeah, that’s right,” and they get to that part of the answering questions on how to fight crime. But instead, she said she doesn’t understand why that is so important to me. And when she says it, she doesn’t understand why that’s so important to me, she’s saying that she doesn’t understand why that’s so important to New Yorkers.

This past weekend, she was on MSNBC with Al Sharpton, and she was saying that our efforts to fight crime — talking about the rising crime on our streets and holding weak prosecutors accountable, the prosecutors were letting violent criminals run free — she’s saying that that’s a conspiracy. She’s saying that we are data deniers. Well, I mean, she must be denying all sorts of crime in order to come up with that logic, because all sorts of major crime stats are up. And we’re not talking about up two or three points.

There’s all different categories up over 30% year over year from last year. So what she wants is for everybody to just look away. There’s nothing to see here. This is a “perception.” She doesn’t want us talking about crime. But the problem is, is that New Yorkers not only believe what they see with their own eyes and the videos, the stories — what they hear from others, what they see in the news reports — they are demanding that the governor be strong on crime. And instead, what they’re getting is a lecture. They’re being dismissed.

Really, Kathy Hochul has alienated herself from everybody because instead of saying, “This is the issue that’s on the ground, these are my solutions to actually solve it, and I’m all in doing everything in my power with zero tolerance for failure to make sure that we take back our streets,” (audio drop) kind of passed it all up and now she’s ceded this ground. So, there are all sorts of Democrats and independents out there who now come up to me and say that they are Democrat, they’ve always voted Democrats. But this year, they’re voting for me. We have to take our streets back.

CLAY: Lee, one of the funniest attacks I’ve seen on you is that you’re anti-Semitic. (laughing) I’ll let you handle that one. But you mention a lot of traditional Democrat voters — Asians, Hispanics, black voters, a lot of Jewish voters — they are fed up with the situation on the ground in New York. Obviously, Republicans listening right now need to support you. But how much have you been gratified to see independents and also Democrats coming into your campaign?

REP. ZELDIN: Oh, it’s been amazing. I mean, we’ve been getting a lot of support in from yesterday, a slew of influential endorsements from the Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn. We have strong support coming in from the Dominican community. It’s a big population. They had Jose Alba, as you remember, a few months ago, one of their own working in a bodega, gets attacked. He had to defend himself. Clear-cut case of self-defense. Alvin Bragg throws him in Rikers Island with an open stab wound, slaps him with a murder charge, and asked for hundreds of thousands of dollars in bail.

I’ve spent a lot of time with the Asian-American community, and from education to their desire to fight crime, people in their own community are being murdered because of raw, violent anti-Asian hate. I’ve spent a lot of time with the black community as well, and I’ll tell you that there’s a big enthusiasm gap. Nobody loves Kathy Hochul. There are people out there who are registered Democrats who, you know, they’re not independent. They don’t question this move of the party to the far left. I get that. But there are a whole lot of other Democrats who are disenfranchised Democrats.

They feel like the party’s left them. They want to get tough on crime. There are Democrats in New York City who registered Democrat “because that’s what you do in New York City,” they say, and they want their vote to count. And they feel like, in order to make their vote count, they need to be able to vote in a Democratic primary for the most normal option if they’re given a normal option. So, all of this adds up. We need at least 30% of the vote inside of New York City.

We have no shot of winning if we get less than 30%. If you get 35% or more inside of New York City, it starts to become very difficult to lose, and each additional point that becomes more and more unlikely. And we’ve been consistently polling in the low-to-mid thirties. Some polls have shown us even in the high thirties. If we’re able to get 35% or more inside of New York City, I don’t see how we lose this race. So, we’ve been working it hard.

And it’s been great to see how many people who have voted Democrat always in their life are supporting us, and it’s included Democratic elected officials, former Democratic elected officials, Democratic community leaders. And they’ve been all courageous in stepping out and saying, “You know what? I don’t care whether or not I’m one party and he’s another party. We’re working together as New Yorkers to be able to save the city and save the state.”

BUCK: We’re speaking to Lee Zeldin. He is in an absolutely critical fight for the governor’s race — governor’s mansion, rather — in New York. And, Lee, you’re talking about New York City, obviously a town that I know very well. And I want to know what you can say to people listening in New York and its environs. Right? Because to me, there’s the residents of New York City, but there’s the commuters.

There’s the people that live, you know, within a couple of hours who will drive in for a weekend or to see a show or a ballgame or whatever. To those people, what can you tell us will be different? Because obviously you’re running for the governor, not for the mayor’s office. What can the governor do, day one, to change the trajectory and start to make things better in New York City? Because, again, I saw it; I know you know what I’m talking about. When New York City gets fixed, the rest of the state tends to follow.

REP. ZELDIN: The first thing I will do the first day that I’m sworn into office is tell the Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg that he’s being removed for his refusal to enforce the law. We don’t have recall elections in New York, but the governor has the constitutional authority to remove a district attorney who refuses to enforce the law. And Alvin Bragg is refusing to do his job. And I’m going to declare a crime emergency on day one. I will suspend New York’s cashless bail law, the HALT Act, Raise the Age, Less is More, and the discovery law changes to force the state legislature to come to the table.

They’re indicating right now that they’re not going to come to the table while we have to bring them to the table. The governor has the legal authority to do so and there is a crime emergency. So, I’m declaring the obvious and I’m taking action starting on day one. We have to roll back some of these pro-criminal laws have been passed. We have to stop passing new pro-criminal laws. We need our district attorneys enforcing the law. We need to support unapologetically our selfless men and women in law enforcement.

We should pass a law enforcement bill of rights. We should push back on this attack on qualified immunity for law enforcement. We put out a plan last year, our Secure Our Streets plan on our website, ZeldinForNewYork.com/SecureOurStreets. It’s a couple of dozen different proposals. And we just want to hit the ground running on day one where people realize that law abiding New Yorkers are back in control of these streets again.

CLAY: Lee, certainly there’s an all-points bulletin out. Democrats are panicked. New York Times is covering it. New York Daily News. Your rise and the threat that your victory could bring to bear. As a result, they’re bringing out a lot of Democrat speakers, Hillary Clinton among them. Am I crazy? Or when they trot out Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, does it actually almost work as an advertisement for your campaign? When you see who they’re bringing in as sort of these are these surrogates, are you looking around saying, “This just proves the case that I’m making even better maybe than I’m making it”?

REP. ZELDIN: A hundred percent. Tomorrow, she has a rally inside of Manhattan with Kamala Harris and Hillary Clinton. And this is an election where New Yorkers have decided that they’re unhappy with the direction of the state. They’re unhappy with the status quo. They want to go a different way. They want to go tough on crime. They are willing to cross party lines and support a Republican. And you can’t have a rally speech of Hillary Clinton and Kamala Harris that’s going to be convincing people who are still making their minds up that, if you vote for Kathy Hochul, that New York suddenly is going to start going in a different direction.

There’s just too many New Yorkers who feel like the state is heading in the wrong direction. And these are not surrogates who represent positive change. These people are, you know, especially Kamala Harris, is capable tomorrow of making statements, Kathy Hochul is capable of making statements that end up giving their rally attention for all the wrong reasons. And, you know, we’ll see how it goes. But what kind of remarks really are going to come out of Kamala Harris and Hillary Clinton’s mouth tomorrow that’s going to be, you know, convincing people, “Oh, man, I guess we should vote for Kathy Hochul because Kamala Harris said so”?

BUCK: Lee, we’ve got a lot of New Yorkers listening right now. We know that they need to vote for you. Anything else they can do? Where should they go?

REP. ZELDIN: You go to our website at ZeldinForNewYork.com. Sign up to volunteer. (audio drop) You could donate $5. You can go on our social media accounts and get engaged in the conversation there. You could just take matters into your own hands. Just communicating, going through your cell phone numbers, going through your emails, going through your social media account, just start pounding away. And the quick, instant, free methods that are now available to get a message out wide and convince people.

Maybe you can even flip a few votes. You know, ask people, “Why are they voting for somebody else?” and when they give you a reason, what you’ll find is it’s usually hyperbolic and not accurate. So, you know, if you’re able to actually flip a vote, well, that’s two. That’s actually two votes. You know, one less for the other side and one more on ours. And, meanwhile, there are people in our lives who are considered low-propensity voters, people who rarely, if ever, come out to vote.

Convince them to show up. It is not just a right to vote, it is a duty. It is your obligation. If you have anybody in your life who wants to tell you about how they are a proud American but they are a low-propensity voter, tell them that, you know, proud Americans understand that this is your obligation to show up on Election Day to cast the vote. We have to get our vote out. That’s the difference between winning or losing at this point.

CLAY: Lee Zeldin, we’re rooting for you, man. We’ll get you on soon after you beat Kathy Hochul and become the New York governor. Keep it up.

REP. ZELDIN: Thanks, guys.

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