UPPER EAST SIDE, Manhattan (WABC) -- The annual Al Smith Dinner is the political event of the year in New York, highlighted by bold-faced names from the worlds of government and business.
It's part a see-and-be-seen event, and part comedy roast, and every year the subtext is the campaign currently under way.
On Thursday night, there were tight smiles between Lee Zeldin and Kathy Hochul, which mirrored the race between them for governor that's tightening fast.
"Every policy I think about goes through the lens of what's best for New Yorkers," Hochul said. "I have the experience, I've been on the job, I've been tested."
Governor Hochul, the Democratic former Lt. Governor, is running for a term of her own while finishing the one vacated by Andrew Cuomo. She's running on defense amid rising crime, particularly in the state-owned transit system.
She's also fending off attacks by Zeldin, a Republican congressman from Long Island, endorsed by former President Donald Trump.
"I believe there is a crime emergency in New York," Zeldin said.
Zeldin has been hammering away at Hochul on crime, and it seems to be working. Polls show he's closing a big gap and is now within several points of defeating Hochul in this heavily Democratic state.
The purpose of this event is to raise money for Catholic charities. Its namesake Al Smith himself won election four times to be governor of New York. Hochul and Zeldin are both vying for their first.
Early voting starts in just over a week.
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