Election 2022: Zeldin closing in on Hochul, poll says

Summer is at an end but the season for political campaign ads is now upon us in New York.

With less than nine weeks until the general election in November, Gov. Kathy Hochul is still leading in the race but a recent poll has Rep. Lee Zeldin, her Republican challenger, inching closer. The poll, from the Trafalgar Group, has Hochul with 47.8% of the vote and Zeldin with 43.4% if the election were held today.

"This is crunch time for campaigns," Hank Sheinkopf, a political strategist explained. 

Hochul's campaign released two TV ads on Tuesday, focusing on guns, abortion and the attack on the U.S. Capitol. These ads are a part of a $2 million campaign that will air on TV and digital channels. One spot highlights a mother whose son was wounded during the shooting at the Buffalo supermarket.

Meanwhile, Zeldin called these ads "distractions" from issues facing New Yorkers such as crime and inflation.

"What I'm doing is talking about the issues New Yorkers say they want us focused on," Zeldin said. "I think it's very telling that Kathy Hochul put this ad out as her first ad of the general election. She's putting millions of dollars behind it. Is it about making the streets in New York City any safer? No."

Former President Donald Trump held a fundraiser for Zeldin over the weekend, helping him rake in around $1.5 million.

Hochul blasted Zeldin for turning to someone like Trump for campaign help.

"People in New York understand our values and Donald Trump never has and never will represent them," Hochul said at an unrelated press conference. "And to the extent that my political opponent wants to be so closely associated and rely on him for the resources — it's troubling but it's something that the voters I guarantee will be taking close note of."

Although Trump has a low approval rating in New York, Zeldin is far behind Hochul in terms of fundraising. Campaign filings from mid-July show Hochul with $11.7 million on hand compared to Zeldin with $1.6 million.

"Zeldin needs money, he has no choice," Sheinkopf said. "So any money he gets is money he needs."

Zeldin has been challenging Hochul to debate him. Hochul said again on Tuesday that she will eventually debate Zeldin, she just won't say yet how many times or where.