Why New York Democrats are supporting Republican Lee Zeldin for governor
A Democratic candidate for governor of the state of New York cannot be elected without the support of the large number of Democratic voters of New York City. But looking around Gotham, you’d be hard-pressed to find a single political sign supporting Gov. Kathy Hochul, the Democratic candidate in next week’s election.
Meanwhile, signs for Republican candidate Lee Zeldin are popping up all over the city — even in the Democratic stronghold of Queens.
In fact, when a Post reporter knocked on the doors of homes where “Zeldin for Governor” signs are posted, many of the people inside said they consider themselves Democrats — but still plan to vote. Republican on November 8.
“I feel like the Democratic Party has left me, I haven’t left the party,” said Phil Wong, 56, a former Democrat who planted a Zeldin sign outside the Elmhurst home he shares with his wife, children and the elderly mother. “They left me with all these extreme progressive policies that hurt New York City and hurt Asians.”
Wong, an immigrant from Hong Kong, is the president of the Alliance of Chinese American Citizens of Greater New York and the former president of Community Education Board 24 in Elmhurst. He actively campaigned to preserve NYC’s gifted and talented programs and the SHSAT, the admissions test used by the city’s most selective high schools. He said changing policies in the city’s public schools is what prompted him to vote for Zeldin, a Republican congressman from Long Island.
“Now it doesn’t matter how much you do in school because it’s no longer based on merit, it’s based on a lottery,” Wong said.
“Then, all of a sudden, the kids don’t even want to work hard anymore, because the chance of going to any school with an average of 95 will be the same as the kid who is going to fail. It’s not fair, that just tells the kids who can just hang out and hang out and still get into good schools.”
Wong said that he also believes that the peak in serious crimes — which, according to NYPD statistics, increased nearly 36% over the past year from January to September — is why he sees more of his neighbors and friends in Queens declaring their support for Zeldin.
“I see more and more moderate Democrats coming out every day and saying they’re going to vote for Zeldin,” Wong told The Post. “We had a great city under Giuliani and Bloomberg, but when De Blasio came, it went downhill. I felt safe, my mother felt safe and my children felt safe. I felt they could go out, play in the park, go to school by yourself and come back. And now I don’t feel like that anymore.”
Not far from Wong’s home in Elmhurst live John Schaffer, a computer engineer, and his wife, Luz, who works in catering. Luz is Hispanic and a longtime Democrat; her husband is a registered white Democrat who simultaneously considers himself conservative. Despite voting for Democrats in the past, the couple displays a Halloween-themed Zeldin sign in their front yard.
John said he drives his wife to and from work if she has to leave very early or come home late because they both fear rampant crime in the subway.
“It’s just not safe,” he said. “We’ve seen the videos. That’s why I’m just voting for Zeldin. But there’s a lot more to it. The Democratic Party has become so corrupt anyway.”
“You can see how the city is going down,” added Luz, who also did not give her age. “You see so many homeless, so many dangerous people. Everyone is afraid and we want the city to go back to the way it was before.
In the nearby Queens neighborhood of Woodside, one-time Democrat Lucy Hensley, 51, who was born in Venezuela, displays a Zeldin sign outside the modest two-story home she shares with her husband, Luis Vielma.
“We came here with nothing,” Hensley said. “We had zero and now we have a good life without ever having to depend on the government. But what we have seen in the United States thanks to democratic policies is a disaster. Being Venezuelan, we understand more than perhaps many others what happen. We saw this happen in Venezuela. We know how they start. We really hope that Zeldin wins.”
Most of Zeldin’s signs spotted by The Post in Queens can be found in Richmond Hill, facilitated in part by retired veteran prosecutor James Quinn, who lives on 112th Street. Quinn, a Republican, said he has put up many Zeldin signs in his front yard and that many of his Democratic neighbors have come to pick up a few for their lawns.
“I have a feeling there are a lot more people who have always voted Democrat but will vote Republican this year,” Quinn said. “I hear them say that they feel that there is really no hope that the Democratic politicians are going to cancel any of these crazy policies or do anything to help solve all the problems that we see in the city.”
One of Quinn’s neighbors is a longtime city police officer who has always voted Democratic. He did not want to be publicly identified, but said he got a Zeldin sign from Quinn to hang outside his house and plans to vote Republican from now on.
“All the violence we see and all the inflation and corruption is too much for me and my family,” he told The Post. “We no longer identify with the Democrats. They are out of touch with the middle class and people in the community. They all have agendas, thinking it’s just about being like liberal. They think everyone is liberal like that but we’re not no. Our values align much more now with what conservatives want.”
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