Our endorsement of Kathy Hochul for governor is a rebuke of Lee Zeldin, the Republican candidate, mainly for his stance on abortion and the ad he ran that included Saheed Vassell, a Black man killed by the police in April 2018.

Zeldin, who currently represents part of Long Island’s Suffolk County in the House, has consistently opposed abortion and his position was made more emphatic as he applauded the overturning of Roe V. Wade.  

More disturbing is the clip of Vassell posted on Zeldin’s Twitter account with a voiceover citing that “actual violent crimes caught on camera in Kathy Hochul’s New York” in which Vassell allegedly points a pipe at a person’s head in Crown Heights. Vassell’s father, Eric, outraged at the depiction issued a statement stating that the image of his son in the ad is akin “to trampling on Saheed’s grave.” His death, which aroused protesters who charged that shooting him was unnecessary since he was mentally ill and presented no danger, occurred three years before Hochul became governor. 

Mr. Vassell has demanded that Zeldin remove the ad and offer an apology for demeaning his son. We have no indication if the ad is no longer running, though a recent viewing may have been a truncated version. 

Whether it’s been removed or not, usage of the ad has already been done and to associate Hochul with the incident has not been disavowed by the Zeldin campaign, which comes as no surprise for a candidate who has welcomed Trump into his camp.

We should get a better understanding of these two issues when the candidates debate later this month—and at this point only one debate seems to be guaranteed. Over the past several years, and certainly during Trump’s campaign, all’s fair in love and politics, and Zeldin has taken his attack on Hochul to a false and disrespectful edge to make a case that she is soft on crime. 

Once more, it should be clear that Zeldin is a zero, and our vote is for Kathy Hochul for governor.

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