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Kathy Hochul’s Speech Is a Road Map to the Campaign That Lies Ahead

She also pledged to pursue a five-year plan to offer 100,000 affordable homes, though some housing advocates thought she should have offered far more comprehensive protections since the state’s eviction moratorium is poised to expire. And she laid out a bevy of climate, infrastructure and transportation-related initiatives.

If many aspects of the speech played into concerns of rank-and-file Democratic voters and union officials, Ms. Hochul also repeatedly made overtures to a broader ideological and geographical swath of voters who will power the general election. (“I think I have a personal experience with just about every pothole in New York as well, especially on the Long Island Expressway,” she said, referring to an important political battleground.).

Representative Lee Zeldin of Long Island is seen as the most formidable Republican contender in the governor’s race, though any Republican seeking a statewide office in New York faces very long odds, and Mr. Zeldin, a staunch Trump ally, would face particular scrutiny for voting to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

Still, Ms. Hochul’s speech came several months after Democrats were deeply shaken by election results around the country. In New York, Democrats suffered a spate of unexpected losses in local races in November, driven on Long Island by concerns around crime and taxes. The governor’s race in neighboring New Jersey — which was defined partly by debates over taxes — was closer than many expected, with a stunning down-ballot loss. And the Democratic candidate in the Virginia governor’s race lost a contest that was shaped by education matters, including parental frustration concerning closed schools.

The governor aimed to address all of those issues directly.

She repeatedly emphasized her commitment to combating gun violence and tackling quality-of-life issues, and she has endorsed funding for law enforcement officers and prosecutors and investments in neighborhoods where violent crime is common. She also stressed that she understood deeply held concerns around public safety, even though New York is far safer today than in earlier eras.

“This is not a return to the dark days of the ’70s and ’80s and ’90s,” she said. “But that’s not our metric for success. We need to get back on track.”

Ms. Hochul devoted a significant part of her speech to discussing matters of affordability. She proactively addressed the challenge of inflation, she made overtures to farmers — not typically seen as a reliable Democratic constituency — and she offered a number of tax proposals. She proposed accelerating tax cuts for the middle class, and her call for a property tax rebate may be especially resonant in the suburbs.

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