Letter: Why is Hochul hiding from Zeldin?

Gov. Kathy Hochul
File photo

To the Editor,

Democrat Gov. Kathy Hochul is following the infamous Rose Garden strategy by ignoring underdog Republican challenger Congressemember Lee Zeldin and refusing to schedule a series of public debates between now and Election Day. With less than eight weeks to go, Hochul’s surrogates will continue to run out the clock in negotiations. They have the goal of agreeing to one or two debates.

Up until the 1980s, candidates participated in numerous television and newspaper editorial board debates. Voters could look beyond the 30- and 60-second TV commercial sound bites to learn about real views and issues among the candidates.

Those candidates who refused to participate in these debates would be subject to critical newspaper editorials. They ended up losing any chance of newspaper endorsements and usually went down to defeat.

In the 1980s, a new Rose Garden strategy emerged. Incumbents or officially designated candidates of both parties refused to debate lesser-known, underfunded opponents. They had no interest in providing a free forum for challengers to get their message directly out to voters. Too many newspapers and good government groups failed to speak up and shame these incumbents into participating in open forums and debates.

They don’t want to provide their respective unknown and underfinanced opponents with free forums to explain their positions on issues of the day.

Why not participate in debates sponsored by each of NYC’s daily newspapers and television stations? Let us hope that enlightened newspapers such as the Bronx Times and Bronx Times Reporter call for an end of incumbents’ use of the infamous Rose Garden Strategy in future elections. Intelligent voters deserve frequent debates prior to the general election as opposed to canned TV commercials.

If Hochul continues to refuse to participate in series of debates with Zeldin, she should be subject to critical newspaper editorials. Hochul should forfeit any chance of endorsements by media outlets.

Larry Penner

More from Around NYC