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January 6 becomes a new line of attack as New York governor’s race gets ugly

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“It is very painful to take such an extreme stance on someone you have served with,” Delgado said in an interview this month. “And it’s alarming.”

Delgado’s comments provide the clearest picture yet of the emerging Hochul campaign strategy. Her team wants to use the attack on the Capitol and Zeldin’s conservative positions, including his support for former President Donald Trump, to boost Democratic turnout as she pushes for a full term in a heavily blue state. And she will stay above the political fray by letting her running mate be the public aggressor, mitigating any downsides of early negative.

Zeldin is poised to run a race focused on the economy, crime and state corruption — in the hopes that a November red wave can help him beat the odds.

Hochul has broadly condemned far-right fanaticism — during her primary victory speech and at various events since then — but has rarely called her opponent out as directly as Delgado does now. The campaign made Hochul unavailable for comment on Zeldin’s actions on January 6.

Zeldin spokesperson Katie Vincentz rejected Delgado’s comments, saying in a statement that he has “a disgraceful collapse of epic proportions, misstatement of facts, misinformation, and trying to divert into absolutely every topic other than the issues that make New Yorkers the fleeing in droves.”

She said Zeldin has acknowledged that Joe Biden is president and has said it is politically dangerous to label an election as “illegitimate.”

Vincentz claimed that Delgado should be concerned about the state’s reform laws, who accused Republicans of fueling a crime wave, “rather than spending all his time pathetically holding his pearls and venting his fake outrage at political expediency.”

That issue came to the forefront of the race Friday, after a man accused of assaulting Zeldin at a campaign event was released from custody the night before.

Zeldin was unharmed during the altercation, which took place at a meeting in the state. But he and other Republicans said it provided evidence that candidates should focus on public safety and criminal justice in November.

“I believe they have blood on their hands and I’m tired of it. This has to stop,” GOP chairman Nick Langworthy said Friday, referring to Democrats. “We must collectively say as New Yorkers that enough is enough. We live in the twilight zone where heroes are treated like criminals and criminals are treated like heroes.”

Ahead of Thursday’s incident, Zeldin had said in a statement that he believes he and his running mate for lieutenant governor are focused on the things New Yorkers care about most.

“While the two main problems for New Yorkers are crime and economics, Kathy Hochul and Antonio Delgado are lacking in action, cowardly trying to distract, kick, and hide rather than lead,” Zeldin said. “This is why Alison Esposito and I are running to replace them on November 8, and this highlights exactly why we are going to win.”

Delgado was not on the floor of the House during the Jan. 6 attacks — his family was in town and he was with them in his apartment a few blocks away — but he went there that night to vote to win Biden’s election. certify .

“To be there and experience that with my family and my little boys — seeing it unfold, trying to process it — was deeply disturbing,” Delgado said. “And to have to stay up until the wee hours of the next morning to certify the election, and to do that with people who thought otherwise, was incredibly disheartening at the time, despite what we’ve just been through. “

Those in Washington at the time are now reliving the day through the House Select committee hearings investigating the attack, including new evidence against members of far-right conservative groups who contributed to the violence. Both Zeldin and Delgado made their comments ahead of Thursday’s January 6 hearing, which described hours of nothing being done during the Trump riots, whom Zeldin vehemently supported during his presidency.

Delgado pointed to at least one encounter Zeldin had years ago as a congressman with the Long Island branch of the Oath Keepers. Multiple members of the group are now facing seditious conspiracy charges for their roles in the January 6 attack.

More recently on the campaign trail, Zeldin has applauded the Long Island Loud Majority, one of the groups the Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center classified as “extreme anti-government” in 2021.

The Loud Majority, which has listed the justice center for making “threats of political violence around issues of vaccines, masking, COVID restrictions,” describes itself as “a home for patriots who have been disowned, disenfranchised and abandoned.” left” with a mission to inspire action.

“Always fighting for the good fight,” Zeldin said in March of the group, which falsely claims Trump won the 2020 election.

On January 6, 2021, Zeldin’s congressional campaign sent a fundraising email telling supporters why he voted against the certification of the election: “My objection today is needed to protect our Constitution, our elections, our people and our to protect the republic.”

Since then and during his campaign for governor, Zeldin has sidestepped questions about whether his position has changed as multiple legal investigations into fraud have found no evidence of the claims. He has instead indicated that some electoral systems adapted to the pandemic may have created opportunities for fraud that will somehow never be proven.

Delgado found the explanation unsatisfactory.

“The fact that he continues to serve and minister to these groups to this day is in itself problematic, but that he himself cannot bring himself to say what in fact is the case, while seeking the highest office in the state. , is grossly reckless,” Delgado said. “And it’s a deliberate disregard for protecting the legitimacy of our democracy.”

New York State Oath Keepers President Dan Devlin said in an interview that the group has neither met nor supported Zeldin in his capacity as a candidate for governor.

“Unfortunately, some people feel that approval for or by certain groups is an obligation,” Devlin said.

Nearly 2,000 New Yorkers are on the list of members, although not all of them are active. The group — which describes itself nationally as an impartial association of tens of thousands of current and former military, police and first responders who pledge to defend the constitution and refuse to follow orders they deem unconstitutional — likely would not support a governor candidate this year, it said. devlin.

“The fact is, unfortunately it’s pretty hard to know what they’re going to do, regardless of who goes to office, until they get into office and actually show what they can do,” said Devlin, who lives in Buffalo.

The Long Island Loud Majority — more political in its stated goals — has endorsed Zeldin, one of the group’s founders, Kevin Smith, said in an interview. But Smith rejected the characterization that the group, which describes itself as the country’s most exciting conservative patriot movement, is “anti-government.”

“If I was against the government, would I help get people elected to government? That seems very strange to me,” he says. “If I were anti-baseball, do you think I would play baseball? It’s just a money-raising mechanism that the SPLC [Southern Poverty Law Center] applications. “

“As for Lee Zeldin, he’s our local congressman,” Smith continued. “He’s done a great job for our community and I think he would do a great job as governor of New York.”

Zeldin’s campaign did not respond to questions about his current relationships with either group.

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