Stop playing chicken, Gov. Hochul, and agree on Lee Zeldin debate dates

Election Day is eight weeks from next Tuesday; early voting starts six weeks from Saturday — yet Gov. Kathy Hochul has yet to agree to a single date for even one debate with her opponent, Rep. Lee Zeldin.

In her characteristic never-take-a-real-stand approach to almost everything, she’s said she’s open to debating . . . without committing to anything remotely concrete.

What are you afraid of, governor?

Much like her predecessor, Andrew Cuomo, who dodged debates in his run for re-election, Hochul is acting like a chicken.

Even Pennsylvania’s John Fetterman, still unable to speak properly as he recovers from a stroke, has agreed to a debate with his Senate opponent, Mehmet Oz, on Oct. 25.

Hochul has no excuse, certainly not finding time in her not-so-busy schedule: The primary was back on June 28, and third-party offers to host debates started rolling in immediately. Many of those dates have already passed while Hochul hemmed and hawed, but at least two major ones (from CBS2 News and PIX 11) are on the table now — and Zeldin’s already agreed.

New York Post cover for Sept. 16.
New York Post cover for Sept. 16.
Hochul leads Zeldin in the polls by single-digits amounts in multiple recent polls.
Lee Zeldin has demanded that Gov. Hochul debate him.
Pacific Press/LightRocket via Ge

Heck, Kat — just name three or four reasonable dates and times (not a Sunday morning or other you-don’t-want-anyone-watching gambits, please), and it’ll happen.

New York is in rough shape:

  • still not recovered from the pandemic and lockdowns with citizens and jobs continuing to flee
  • suffering rampant crime statewide
  • facing huge budget deficits starting next year
  • bracing for soaring home-heating bills this winter, up at least 30%

. . . to name just a few of the most urgent issues.

New Yorkers deserve to know what their governor will do about it all. (They certainly can’t tell from what you’ve told them so far, including on your nothing-but-platitudes website.) Indeed, they deserve to meet their governor — who inherited the job when the guy who chose her as his No. 2 was driven from office.

Show your face, governor. Confront your opponent; tell us where you stand and where you mean to lead.

Even if you think hiding out is your best chance to win, it’ll be an empty victory. You won’t be able to achieve anything (beyond rewarding your donors) if you win as an empty suit: The Legislature and special interests will continue to eat you alive.

Playing chicken is a guarantee that you’ll go down in history as an utter disaster.

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