In the wake of a deadly mass shooting at a Buffalo supermarket, gubernatorial hopeful Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Long Island) is blasting Gov. Kathy Hochul for saying “we got a lot done” regarding her administration’s anti-crime efforts.
“There has to be a comprehensive plan, and it’s got to be top of mind … You know, when I was younger, I would have never said it, but now I feel it so strongly after being around as long as I have: leadership matters,” Suozzi, a former Nassau County executive facing Hochul in the June 28 Democratic primary, told The Post in an exclusive interview Saturday night.
“And this governor is not exercising leadership, on crime, on taxes, a lot of affordability.”
The governor had pushed back earlier Saturday, before the shooting, against criticism of her handling of rising crime by defending recent changes to bail reform that expanded the number of bail-eligible offenses while making it easier to jail people pre-trial when they have accused of multiple offenses.
“We got a lot done. I don’t expect you to hear about that from my opponents because they don’t like the fact that we were successful,” Hochul exclusively told The Post before the shooting, after making her first public appearance since announcing she had COVID-19 last week.
“We have changed the whole system, [and] we continue to make sure that people who are accused of the same offense, same low-level offense are not treated differently based on what they can pay,” she added.
The comment inspired a quick rebuke from Suozzi while he campaigned in Buffalo alongside his running mate, former New York City Councilwoman Diana Reyna.
“‘Successful?’ @Reyna4NY and I are in Buffalo right now, @KathyHochul’s hometown. Multiple people were just shot and killed at an East Side @TopsMarkets supermarket. Hochul refuses to make fighting crime a priority. I will.” Suozzi tweeted.
The Long Island congressman recently unveiled a 15-point plan for fighting rising crime, which included a call for Albany Democrats to pass legislation enabling judges to have more discretion to jail or impose bail for criminal defendants based on the perceived danger to public safety.
Some judges have not imposed bail in several recent high-profile cases, even though gun crimes and other violent offenses are eligible for bail, a situation that Suozzi told the Post could be addressed by collecting “statistical analysis” to hold lax judges accountable.
“Hold them accountable. We need to be discussing it in public. That’s what a leader is supposed to do, but by treating it as an afterthought, and not even discussing it, how are you possibly going to change the judges to pay attention as well?” Suozzi told The Post Saturday, referring to a purported lack of leadership on Hochul’s part.
Suozzi and Hochul are also running against Public Advocate Jumaane Williams in the Democratic primary for governor.
A spokesperson for Hochul’s gubernatorial campaign said that the governor did not attend several fundraisers that had reportedly been scheduled for Saturday with her newly named running mate Rep. Antonio Delgado.
“I’m on my way to Buffalo to assist with the response to today’s shooting. My heart breaks for the victims’ families and for everyone impacted by this horrific and despicable act of violence,” Hochul tweeted Saturday evening.