As Jews around the world conclude a month of atonement, festivities, and reflection while gearing up to restart the biblical cycle over again, it is incumbent upon all to take stock of the mistakes of the past year in order to rectify, repent, and reevaluate priorities and plans for the coming year. Problems that are solvable can only be done once those problems are recognized, and recognition of our own failings is the first step towards repentance. In fact, it is impossible to fix a problem unless a powerful first step is taken: admitting you have one.
New York is full of problems. Major problems. Life-ruining problems. Problems that lead lifelong residents of the Empire State to leave in droves towards the greener pastures of Florida and Texas. These problems can only be solved if they are recognized. In the race to become the next Governor of New York, there is only one candidate who even admits there is a problem and is ready, willing, and able to work to solve it. That candidate is Congressman Lee Zeldin.
Congressman Zeldin was raised in Suffolk County. At the age of 23, he graduated SUNY Albany Law School to become the youngest lawyer in New York State (at the time). He joined the Army, serving four years in multiple positions, including a Military Intelligence Officer, Prosecutor and Military Magistrate. In 2006, Congressman Zeldin was deployed to Iraq as part of the Army’s elite 82nd Airborne Division. After he completed his service on active duty, Zeldin transitioned to Army Reserve, where he currently serves as a Lieutenant Colonel.
In 2010, Zeldin was elected to the State Senate of New York, where he led the effort to repeal the MTA Payroll tax and worked to help combat veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) through the creation of a peer-to-peer counseling program called the PFC Joseph Dwyer Program. In 2015, he joined the U.S. House of Representatives, and is one of two Jewish Republicans serving in Congress.
The New York that Zeldin is hoping to lead is not the same as the one when he initially went to Washington. Violent crime is up by double-digit percentages in parts of the state. Anti-Semitic and anti-Asian hate crimes are rampant. The declaration of sanctuary city status by cities throughout the state has created an immigration crisis so large that NYC Mayor Eric Adams has declared a state of emergency. Homelessness is the highest it’s been in decades, and iconic landmarks like Times Square are reverting back to their pre-Giuliani levels of degradation.
The pandemic exacerbated already existing problems within the state. Governor Andrew Cuomo and his successor, Governor Kathy Hochul, have used the pandemic to grab power in any way they can, oftentimes to their own financial or political gain. Cuomo made book deals, won Emmy awards, and became a nationally lauded figure on the backs of the highest COVID death tolls in the nation during his tenure. Hochul kept up her emergency powers long enough to make a corrupt deal with COVID testing providers who sold the state tests at double the price while contributing to her re-election campaign. Meanwhile, New York is one of the only states that has yet to recover to its pre-pandemic unemployment levels. New York is ranked last in terms of unemployment of the 50 states at 4.9%, with only the District of Columbia behind it.
In terms of education, Democratic governance has made non-public schools the prime target of their ire over the failing public school system. In terms of dollars spent per pupil, New York spends more than any other state, at $22,231. The reward for spending the most per student is the result of total mediocrity, with education results placing New York 23rd in the nation. The Department of Education has little to say about the failing public school standards, but has delighted in making the focus of the problem ultra-Orthodox institutions, which account for a minute percentage of the state’s pupils. For the first time, the Education department sanctioned a Jewish day school, and the State Regents Board approved a massive oversight plan on Jewish educational institutions.
The reward for New Yorkers for mediocre to failing results in quality of life issues is the highest tax burden in the nation. The per capita tax rate for New Yorkers is $9,829, three times that of Florida, a state with a comparable population. While Florida is boasting a budget surplus of $21 billion, New York is falling off a budget cliff, with a projected deficit of $10 billion by 2026. Decades of mismanagement at the highest levels of government have led New Yorkers to a fiscal crisis that cannot be easily solved.
Solving these problems are none of Kathy Hochul’s concerns, however. She is far too focused on non-issues in New York: abortion and Donald Trump. Following the Hochul campaign, one might think that Lee Zeldin is walking around Central Park with a bullhorn and a Bible preaching the Catholic Catechism. While Zeldin readily admits to being pro-life, he also admits that as governor, he has no power to overturn New York’s abortion laws. He also admits that the State Assembly, which has been under Democratic Party control since 1975, will not be switched to Republican control anytime soon. Yet Hochul makes it seem like abortion is on the ballot, when it is not.
Also not on the ballot is former President Donald Trump, whose unpopularity in New York is leading Hochul to believe that if she connects Trump to Zeldin, she can obfuscate her own shortcomings. Zeldin, who has received Trump’s full endorsement, is not broadcasting his connection to the president; rather, he is focusing his campaign on the issues at hand - crime and the economy.
This message is working, as the Real Clear Politics projection has recently moved the Governor’s Race from “Leans Democrat” to “Toss Up.” Should he win, this will be the first time that a Republican has defeated a sitting Democrat for Governor since George Pataki beat Mario Cuomo back in 1994. This race will come down to the wire, and every vote counts. It is imperative that every rational, thoughtful, and commonsense minded New Yorker, regardless of party affiliation, come out and vote for Lee Zeldin.
Moshe Hill is a political columnist and Senior Fellow at Amariah, an America First Zionist organization. Moshe has a weekly column in the Queens Jewish Link, and has been published in Daily Wire, CNS News, and other outlets. You can follow Moshe on his blog www.aHillwithaView.com, facebook.com/aHillwithaView, and twitter.com/HillWithView.