Clinton Pollster: Murder Of Mother Of Three May Give NY Gov’s Race To Zeldin
Remember all the way back to last week, during the New York gubernatorial debate, when Republican challenger Lee Zeldin pressed Gov. Kathy Hochul on the state’s three-year cashless bail policy amid a rising crime rate?
“This governor…what are we, half way through the debate? She still hasn’t talked about locking up anyone committing any crimes,” Zeldin said.
The governor earned a top spot on numerous political talk shows with her notably blase response: “Anyone who commits a crime under our laws … has consequences. I don’t know why that’s so important to you.”
Mark Penn, a former pollster for President Bill Clinton, had an answer for Hochul the next day when he appeared on the Fox News Channel’s “America’s Newsroom” program.
“Crime is the number one issue in New York State, and this horrific murder, in which someone beats her first and is let out on the street, this could be the incident close enough to the election, clear enough in its relation to the bail laws… wow, this could really be it,” said Penn, who believes if enough voters connect Hochul’s soft-on-crime policies to Keaira Bennefield’s death, the race could well go to Zeldin — even though the polling outfit FiveThirtyEight still had Hochul up by slightly more than 7 percentage points on Nov. 2.
Keaira Bennefield, 30, was fatally shot in front of her children at about 8:30 in the morning Oct. 5, less than 24 hours after her estranged husband was released from custody without bail for allegedly beating her.
Adam Bennefield, 45, is accused of ramming his car into his wife’s vehicle that morning as she was taking her three children — who range from ages 6 months to 9 years — to school. The children were in the car when Adam Bennefield allegedly shot his wife execution-style.
Keaira Bennefield had apparently begged police to help her in the weeks leading up to her death, according to a report in the New York Post, while Adam Bennefield had a previous conviction for kidnapping another woman at gunpoint.
“She should be charged for the crime. She’s also responsible for the crime,” Tammy Hudson, Keaira Bennefield’s mother, said to the Post about Hochul.
During his Fox News appearance, Penn reflected on the New York City crime epidemic in the 1990s, when he remembers President Clinton sought police endorsements and took tough-on-crime stances to resonate with those affected by the issues of the era.
“History does repeat itself over and over again,” said Penn. “We’re seeing here that the policies that led to crime in the ’90s are being repeated now, and I think they’re even more extreme. The truth of the matter is, New Yorkers don’t support these policies.”
Penn suggested Zeldin has run a “smart campaign” that’s kept crime as a major focus, while Hochul has apparently sought to delay addressing the issue until after the election — another move that could deter her from winning.
Zeldin, who recently teamed up with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to encourage Staten Island voters to go to the polls, told Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Tuesday night that the energy, momentum and issues are all in his favor.
“People are done with Kathy Hochul,” Zeldin told Hannity, adding he sees a coming-together of Republicans, Democrats and independents “all together as New Yorkers, to save this state.”