Even as crime has emerged as the top issue among likely voters in the New York gubernatorial race, Democratic incumbent Kathy Hochul called people who mention it "data deniers" and conspirators.
"These are master manipulators," Hochul told MSNBC's Al Sharpton on Sunday, referencing Republicans who point to her state's crime surge. "They have this conspiracy going all across America to try and convince people that in Democratic states they're not as safe."
In a recent poll by Quinnipiac University, crime ranked highest among New York voter issues, with 28 percent of respondents selecting it as the most urgent issue facing the state. When this year's rates are compared with the five-year average of 2017 to 2021 at the same point, shooting incidents resulting in injury or death in the state have jumped up 23.8 percent this year. The amount of individuals killed by gun violence, meanwhile, is up 45.9 percent.
Last week, Hochul downplayed the issue as a few "high-profile instances" creating a "sense of fear."
Crime in New York City is up 29.64 percent compared with this time last year, according to the latest city statistics. While murder is down 13.8 percent, robbery is up 32.4 percent, rape is up 10.9 percent, and hate crimes increased by 12.6 percent.
Hochul's comment comes days after she said she did not understand why crime "is so important" to her opponent, Republican Lee Zeldin. The two are in a closer-than-expected race, with Hochul up 6.8 points, according to FiveThirtyEight. Former governor Andrew Cuomo (D.) won by more than 23 points in 2018.