Now that she no longer occupies the heady heights of power afforded the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is weighing in on what she believes led to her party's loss of the lower chamber majority, and in her estimation, it is Democrats in New York who are to blame, as the New York Post reports.
Citing a recent interview Pelosi gave to New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, the former speaker believes that a host of liberal politicians in the Empire State – Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) in particular – did real damage to the Democrats' midterm prospects by downplaying the issue of rising crime during the campaign season.
As the Washington Free Beacon pointed out last fall, in her gubernatorial campaign against Republican Lee Zeldin, Hochul attempted to minimize the seriousness of the crime problem in her state, suggesting that the issue had been overblown due to a handful of “high-profile instances.”
In seeming denial about a 22.7% increase in burglaries and a 21.5% rise in grand larceny auto a month prior as compared to the same period in 2021, Hochul decried what she claimed was an exaggerated “sense of fear in people's minds.”
That approach stood in stark contrast to that of Zeldin, who repeatedly raised the issue as a centerpiece of his campaign and used it as a way to mount a more serious challenge to Hochul than many pundits expected.
As Politico noted in October, after spending much of the summer campaigning against Zeldin by slamming his anti-abortion stance and his endorsement from former President Donald Trump, Hochul seemed to realize the necessity of a last-minute pivot toward tackling crime and started owning up to the situation very late in the game.
Perhaps Hochul's course correction was a tacit admission that Republican Joe Borelli of the New York City Council was correct when he said, “No matter how many times she utters 'Orange Man bad,' it doesn't matter when you don't feel safe in your own neighborhood or public transit or you can't afford to eat, work and play in New York.”
Shortly before Election Day, Hochul was asked if her subsequent shift toward acknowledging the seriousness with which voters viewed rising crime was little more than a pragmatic realization that she was at risk of losing to Zeldin, and her response was a prickly one.
“If there is a fair assessment of what has been going on, it's been a continuum of informing the public on what we've been doing,” Hochul began, though voters polled on the matter in the waning days of the campaign seemed to disagree.
“I don't think it is [an] accurate characterization to say we just started talking about crime. … I am not letting the political theater out there affect what we've done. This is not a new issue for me, and I think that's well-established,” she added.
Democratic strategist Jon Reinish emphasized at the time that Hochul's stance on crime was likely to impact far more than just her own electoral chances, saying, “It's not just about the governor's race. We have three of the highest profile, must-win House races in the country here in New York.”
“To lift them to victory, strength at the top of the ticket is absolutely essential,” Reinish added, and though Hochul ultimately triumphed over Zeldin in the governor's race, the GOP successfully defeated Democrat power player Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) and flipped other seats in the 3rd, 4th, and 19th districts, as The Hill reported.
Given the narrow margin by which Republicans claimed the House majority, according to Pelosi, Reinish's take was shown to have been the right one, and a different approach to the crime problem needed to have been adopted well before autumn.
“That is an issue that had to be dealt with early on, not 10 days before the election,” Pelosi told Dowd. “The governor didn't realize soon enough where the trouble was,” and if the former speaker is correct in the claim that Hochul's failure did indeed lead to GOP control of the House, millions of Americans are assuredly grateful for her glaring political blind spot.