New York’s new Dem governor seemingly at odds with her lieutenant governor over defunding police

New York’s new Democratic Governor Kathy Hochel, is not in sync with her new lieutenant governor over the latter’s support for defunding police.

“Governor Hochul does not support defunding the police,” Hazel Crampton-Hays, her press secretary, told the New York Post. “In the Hochul Administration, public safety and justice and accountability in policing are not mutually exclusive, and we are glad to partner with soon-to-be Lieutenant Governor Benjamin on these priorities to keep our communities safe.”

Meanwhile, Hochel’s new incoming second-in-charge, state Sen. Brian Benjamin, who has represented Harlem since 2017, is well known for supporting far-left causes and even made “defunding the police” a cornerstone of his failed bid to become New York City comptroller earlier this year, the paper added.

“As New York City Comptroller, Brian will investigate 20,000 cases of police misconduct to find patterns of abuse,” says a narrator in a campaign advert where the then-candidate pledged to audit the NYPD budget in full.

In January, Benjamin said in a tweet promoting his candidacy, “I support the movement to defund the police because I believe that there are parts of the NYPD budget that are not essential for public safety.”

He added: “Our goal must be to use the powers of the office to prioritize more public safety measures, not more law enforcement.”

According to The Post, Benjamin has also voiced his support for “the state’s disastrous bail-reform laws” as well as plans to shutter the Riker’s Island prison.

But a spokesman for Benjamin appeared to downplay all of that.

“The Senator agrees with Governor Hochul that public safety and accountability in policing are not mutually exclusive. He looks forward to supporting her agenda,” Neil Reilly told the paper in a statement.

Hochel has posited herself as a Democratic “moderate” in the mold, supposedly, of President Joe Biden, whose policies have trended very far left, not moderate, since he took office.

Also, her pledge to work with Benjamin as a “partner” who will be working “side by side in the trenches” with her is also being seen as problematic by some.

“It shows that Kathy Hochul has just lurched very far to the left and I expect her to do that with many other policies as she tries to appease the loudest liberal voices in the room,” Andrew Giuliani, son of former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani and currently a GOP candidate for governor in 2022, told The Post.

Giuliani also ripped Benjamin’s stand on defunding police in general.

“It shows the guy just doesn’t really care about the facts at all and the challenges that are facing New Yorkers,” he said.

Recent surveys show that the majority of Americans — including New Yorkers — do not favor defunding police. In fact, in New York City, most want more NYPD officers on the streets especially after crime has spiked again following Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council cutting $1 billion from the department’s budget amid the fallout protests and violence following George Floyd’s death in May 2020.

An NY1/Ipsos survey taken in May found that, of likely voters in the upcoming mayoral primary, 41 percent strongly agreed that more NYPD officers are needed on streets, while another 31 percent said they “somewhat” agreed that is the case.

Jon Dougherty

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