By Richard Lee
Most of the differences between New York’s two major gubernatorial candidates are obvious.
Kathy Hochul is a Democrat whose record and priorities are in line with the party’s agenda. Lee Zeldin is a Republican whose positions on major issues mirror fellow members of the GOP.
However, one difference that seems to fly under the radar is the type of government experience each candidate brings to the table.
Hochul’s government resume consists mostly of positions in the executive branch. Prior to becoming governor a year ago this month, she served as lieutenant governor for six years and eight months. She also spent four years as Erie County Clerk.
On the other hand, Zeldin’s entire career in elected office has been in the legislative branch — four years in the New York State Senate and nearly 12 years in Congress.
This distinction between the two candidates is significant because the skills demanded by the executive branch, whether national, state or local, are different from those needed in the legislative branch.
A legislator is just one part of a larger organization. Congress has 535 members, who draft and vote on bills.
It is the chief executives in government who decide which bills become law. They also have are responsible for developing and implementing the programs and policies those bills call for.
So does a difference candidates’government experience make a difference?
At first glance, the answer is yes. Why wouldn’t voters want someone with executive experience to run their towns, counties, states and the nation at large?
But over the years, plenty of legislators have successfully transitioned to the executive branch.
In the end, the choice comes down to who the electorate feels can best do the job. But as voters weigh the pros and cons of where candidates stand on the issues, they would be wise to also take a look at what type of government experience those running for office have on their resumes.
Richard Lee, executive director of the Jandoli Institute, covered politics and government as a reporter and later served as Deputy Director of Communication for two New Jersey governors. To read more of Lee’s ‘”On the Road to Albany” columns, follow the Jandoli Institute on Twitter and Facebook.
Categories: Jandoli Institute, On the Road to Albany, Politics, richleeonline
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