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Former Cuomo aide blasts Hochul’s ‘lack of leadership’ on subway crime

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has been losing ground in her re-election race against Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin, and a former aide to Hochul’s predecessor Andrew Cuomo is blaming her lack of response to crime in New York City, specifically when it comes to the subway.

In a Tuesday evening interview with WABC radio’s John Catsimatidis, former Cuomo aide Melissa DeRosa said that “there’s a real disconnect” between Democratic politicians and New Yorkers when it comes to crime, pointing at Hochul in particular. Zeldin, meanwhile, has focused much of his campaign on targeting crime and supporting law enforcement, often referring to state bail reform laws that require many offenders to be immediately released without bail.

“It’s not just what Lee is saying, it’s more what Hochul isn’t saying,” DeRosa said, noting that despite the state government having “a very big role” in the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) that runs the subway, Hochul “has been completely absent from the conversation, almost as if she has absolutely nothing to do with it.”

DeRosa noted that most New York City residents are “held hostage” by the MTA because they do not have cars and cannot afford to take other modes of transportation to and from work.

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“And right now, every day, you’re seeing stories pop about people being pushed onto subway tracks, where there’s someone getting stabbed, somebody getting shot, people getting mugged,” DeRosa said. “And the problem, I think, with the Democratic Party right now and politicians on the left is that they believe that they convince New Yorkers not to feel something that they feel. And the reality is that politicians work for voters, not the other way around. And so when they’re communicating to the people that they hire, that they put in office, ‘I do not feel safe,’ and the politicians are responding by putting their head in the sand or trying to talk about statistics and explain to them why what they’re seeing and feeling isn’t real, it’s not going to work.”

“Unless the Democratic politicians – Hochul specifically, but in general – get smart to this,” DeRosa added, “they’re going to have an uncomfortably close Election Day.”

Catsimatidis questioned why there are no “common sense Democrats” talking about this.

“I think that voters respond to leadership, and they respond to a lack of leadership,” DeRosa said. “And right now the silence out of state government, the governor’s office, on subway crime is deafening. And the reality is, people want to feel safe, that’s their right.”

DeRosa said that the previous day she heard a report about someone being pushed onto the subway tracks and then being rescued.

“Hochul puts out her schedule, and she says that she’s going to be making a public service announcement,” DeRosa said, stating she was “hopeful” that “finally, they’re going to say something about crime and the MTA.” 

Instead, she recalled, Hochul’s announcement was about catalytic converter theft.

“When there are really big problems, politicians have a tendency to duck them when they think they can’t solve them or try to avoid them. But this is one that’s not going away.”

This lack of response, DeRosa claimed, is why Hochul is losing ground to Zeldin.

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“It’s not across the board. Schumer’s not seeing the same impact in his numbers. It’s her specifically,” she said.

Hochul became governor after Cuomo resigned amid scandals related to alleged sexual misconduct and COVID-19 nursing home deaths. DeRosa recalled that when Cuomo was still in office, his administration and then-Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office clashed over adding police officers on subways. She said that at the time city officials did not want the MTA involved in this, arguing they should focus on train service.

“Well the reality is, no one cares if the train is on time if you’re worried about getting shot on the train,” she said.

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Despite all this, DeRosa remained confident that Democrats will prevail in November.

“I do not think that Hochul is going to lose. I do not think that Lee Zeldin is going to be governor,” she said. Still, she observed that “in a state as blue as New York,” for someone like Zeldin – who is aligned with former President Trump – to make it a close race is “incredible.”

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