CNN panelist Bakari Sellers, a former Democrat member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, said the New York gubernatorial race between incumbent Gov. Kathy Hochul and Republican challenger Lee Zeldin is closer than many expected because Democrats are out of touch with voters.
“Democrats for too long live in an ivory tower and don’t meet voters where they are, and that is why this race is close,” Bakari said Tuesday before polls closed.
Sellers’ comments were made during “Election Day in America”, CNN’s special daytime coverage of the 2022 midterm elections.
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Anna Navarro, a never Trump Republican who campaigned for Joe Biden in 2020 and frequently bashes the GOP on The View, agreed with Sellers.
She said Democrats must “rid themselves of the albatross around their neck that has become the defund the police lingo.”
Sellers said that Democrats need to acknowledge that crime is a problem for New Yorkers and present solutions instead of attempting to downplay it.
“The way that Democrats tackle messaging on particular issues – take crime for example – you cannot tell New Yorkers or people in Arkansas or people in Georgia or Philadelphia or wherever it may be that the statistics about crime are wrong, that what you’re feeling is not accurate,” Sellers said.
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“Crime is an issue, it’s a top issue. It’s a top of mind issue,” he continued.
Sellers argued that Democrats have to offer solutions that focus on education, community policing, and after school activities.
If Zeldin wins, he would become the first Republican elected New York governor in two decades. If Hochul pulls it out, she would be the Empire State’s first elected female governor.
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Nationally, Republicans are hoping to win back the House and Senate in an election that will be pivotal for determining the path of the U.S. over the next two years.