Combative New York City moms are lining up their support behind Lee Zeldin as the GOP looks to take charge in Albany for the first time in 16 years.

“The Democrats pissed off the wrong people — they pissed off the moms,” Jackie Toboroff, a mother of two and a former New York City Council candidate, told Fox News Digital. 

“We’re Muslim, Jewish, Christian, black, white, rich and poor. And we’re all upset at what’s become of our schools and our communities,” she also said.

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Zeldin, a U.S. Army Reserve officer and a Republican congressman from Long Island, is looking to unseat Democrat Gov. Kathy Hochul in the Nov. 8 election. 

The latest Fox News Power Rankings put the New York governor’s race as a “likely” Democrat win — a noted change from earlier, when it was categorized as a “solid” Democrat win.

Inna Vernikov (center, in blue suit), a GOP member of the NYC Council, recently helped organize a “Moms for Zeldin” rally for gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin on the Upper West Side of New York City.
(Kerry J. Byrne/Fox News Digital)

Hochul, who has never been elected to the post she holds, has a 6-point lead in the latest Real Clear Politics average. Some polls, however, put the race as a statistical dead heat. At least one poll puts Zeldin in the lead.

Moms appear to be one of the motivated voting blocs that are fueling Zeldin’s sudden ascendancy as he seeks to upset Hochul in New York. 

Fox News' Democracy 2022 Power Rankings as of Oct. 25, 2022; the governor elections' forecast indicates which way each state may vote.

Fox News’ Democracy 2022 Power Rankings as of Oct. 25, 2022; the governor elections’ forecast indicates which way each state may vote.
(Fox News)

Toboroff helped organize a boisterous “Moms for Lee Zeldin” sidewalk rally this month in New York City’s Upper West Side, one of the deepest blue sections of the deep-blue city. 

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A line of influential women from across the city, disillusioned by decades of Democrat dogma they say is failing families and children, joined the rally outside the Anderson School, a public middle school, to throw their support behind the Republican challenger.

“Moms are very fed up with the way Democrats are running the city and the state,” Inna Vernikov, a Ukrainian immigrant and New York City council member from Brooklyn, told Fox News Digital. 

Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, on the left; Republican gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin on the right. Moms in New York City are "upset that their streets are not safe," according to Inna Vernikov, a Ukrainian immigrant, who shared her thoughts with Fox News Digital. 

Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, on the left; Republican gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin on the right. Moms in New York City are “upset that their streets are not safe,” according to Inna Vernikov, a Ukrainian immigrant, who shared her thoughts with Fox News Digital. 
(Getty images)

“They’re upset that their children missed two years of schooling at a time very critical to their development,” Vernikov also said. 

“They’re angry about safety. They’re upset that their streets are not safe. They can’t understand why Hochul refuses to fire woke DAs like [Manhattan District Attorney] Alvin Bragg. They’re angry that she’s pandering to the woke and to the progressives and to the criminals.”

Vernikov, an attorney who represents a district with a large immigrant population, is already part of a rising GOP wave in New York City. 

She is one of three Republican women who won traditional Democrat seats on the city council last year, joined by Vickie Paladino and Joann Ariola, both of Queens.

“Moms are very fed up with the way Democrats are running the city and the state,” said Inna Vernikov, a Ukrainian immigrant and New York City council member from Brooklyn. 

She took the “Moms for Zeldin” podium earlier this month along with Yiatan Chu, an activist in New York City’s Chinatown communities; Madeline Brame, an African American mom from Yonkers, New York, whose son, Army veteran Hason Correa, was killed in Harlem and has since became an advocate for law and order in NYC; and Zeldin himself.

Moms cited three major issues fueling their support for the Republican candidate: the education of their kids, crime in the neighborhoods, and the emotional and physical well-being of the state’s schoolchildren.

Commuters wait on the platform at the Times Square subway station in New York City, on Wednesday, May 25, 2022. 

Commuters wait on the platform at the Times Square subway station in New York City, on Wednesday, May 25, 2022. 
(Stephanie Keith/Bloomberg)

Concerns over education are underscored by disturbing new data that shows shocking setbacks for American children in the wake of COVID lockdowns and school closures.

Data published this week by the Nation’s Report Card showed that reading scores dropped to their largest margin in 30 years, while math scores declined for the first time in 50 years of testing.

Chu, a lifelong Democrat and mother of two, is motivated by the frightening rise in crime in the city. She moved to New York City from China at age 9 and grew up riding the New York City subway. Her children did, too, she said. But no more. 

“The subways are too dangerous,” she said. 

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New York Police Department crime data show that her concerns are valid. 

Transit crimes are up 41.7% this year compared with 2021, according to the NYPD. Felony assaults are up 14.1%, robberies are up 33.3%, grand larceny is up 39.9% and reports of rape are up 9%, among other year-to-year increases in crime.

“Crime, education, parents’ rights to choose on issues like masking and vaccines — that’s what parents are worried about,” said Chu. 

New York City Council member Inna Vernikov (right) speaks at a press conference sponsored by New York City Council Member Vickie Paladino about supporting public sector workers effected by Covid-19 vaccine mandates on Tuesday, March 29, 2022, beside the Unisphere in Flushing Meadows Corona Park Queens, News York. 

New York City Council member Inna Vernikov (right) speaks at a press conference sponsored by New York City Council Member Vickie Paladino about supporting public sector workers effected by Covid-19 vaccine mandates on Tuesday, March 29, 2022, beside the Unisphere in Flushing Meadows Corona Park Queens, News York. 
(Barry Williams for NY Daily News via Getty Images)

“Many of the things creeping into progressive schools are things that the state supports but a lot of parents do not,” said Chu.

“The moms voting for Lee Zeldin want a return to the foundations of education: math, reading and science. We don’t need political activism or age-inappropriate lessons for our kids,” she added.

Chu said she follows threads on WeChat, a Chinese-language social media platform, which shows that immigrant parents in New York City do not support the hard-left educational platform of Hochul and the Democrats.

“We are a powerful voting bloc. We helped turn the tide for Glenn Youngkin in Virginia. And we’re voting for Lee Zeldin here in New York in November.”

“Moms care mostly about issues affecting their family, their children’s safety, their well-being and education,” said Vernikov. 

“The Democrats don’t seem to care about those issues.” 

As a result, she said, “Lee Zeldin absolutely will win. We can’t wait for Nov. 8.”

“Democrats broke education with social justice, low standards and politicized teachers unions,” said Toboroff, a lifelong Manhattan resident. 

“Democrats voted in lockstep with for shutdowns and masks. Then the return to school focused solely on CRT [critical race theory], making an education recovery impossible.”

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“The Democrats have spent too much time focusing on fringe identity groups and in the process they upset a huge group of moms from all walks of life,” she also said.

“We are a powerful voting bloc. We helped turn the tide for Glenn Youngkin in Virginia. And we’re voting for Lee Zeldin here in New York in November.”

Rémy Numa of Fox News contributed reporting. 

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