Albany, NY – Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul won the election in New York on Tuesday, making history as the first female voter to be elected to the state’s highest office.
Hochul took the stage at a packed downtown Manhattan watch party around 11:30 p.m. pm to cheers and Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” as the votes are still being counted and her role over the Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin is narrowing.
“The glass ceiling like the one above us here today has been shattered in New York state, and you’ve had it happen,” he told supporters.
Hochul led Zeldin 54 percent to 46 percent with 81 percent of the vote counted as of 12:30 a.m. Wednesday. Her election was boosted by a strong showing in New York City, which both candidates considered key to their success.
Zeldin refused to concede, saying there were still 1.4 million possible votes still being counted – particularly in Suffolk County on Long Island where he is from and served as a congressman.
“It’s going to be a little frustrating for members of the media who never want us to be in the fray here in New York,” he told a thin crowd of supporters who filled the spacious Cipriani ballroom in midtown Manhattan.
“What’s going to happen is that over the next few hours you’re going to see the race continue to get closer and closer and closer,” he said.
The race was closer than most gubernatorial contests in the past two decades after Zeldin’s campaign surged in recent months as voters turned their attention to public safety and the economy.
Hochul, who takes office in August 2021 after former Governor Andrew Cuomo resigned amid sexual harassment allegations, has vowed to focus on housing, reducing gun violence and building economic opportunities in his first full term, as well as protecting abortion rights.
Hochul on Tuesday thanked the top staff and the union, which he credited for “bringing it home.” He didn’t mention Zeldin in his victory speech, instead saying New Yorkers chose not to “go backwards in our long journey toward progress.”
“I believe with every fiber in my body that my best days are ahead,” he said.
Hochul’s campaign has raised a record $50 million in less than a year and is backed by broad support from all corners of New York’s Democratic Party, which has a 2-to-1 registration advantage over Republicans.
The 64-year-old former congresswoman from Buffalo sought to emphasize Zeldin’s close relationship with former President Donald Trump, his vote against certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election and his anti-abortion rights stance, all unpopular positions in New York.
But Zeldin’s fundraising from billionaire cosmetics heir Ronald Lauder and other special interest groups, and his aggressive rhetoric to crack down on crime, paired with Hochul’s tenure, created one of the strongest showings for the GOP since New York elected a Republican for governor. in 2002.
Hochul has spent the past month focusing his efforts on rallying voters in the state and pushing his campaign message on his own actions to combat violent crime, which includes stemming the flow of illegal guns into the state. He’s also trying to raise his relatively understated, unusual profile in New York politics and in the political celebrity climate of 2022. Case in point: He’s the first governor from outside the New York City area in a century.
During his 15 months at the Hochul office pass the first APBN with many of his priorities intact, braced for a major weather disaster when Hurricane Ida flooded New York City the day after he took office and responded to the tragedy after 10 people were killed in a Buffalo supermarket shooting not far from his home.
He also drew criticism for appointing a lieutenant governor who quickly resigned federal bribery chargesquietly close the deal to send millions of dollars of state funding to keep the Buffalo Bills in New York, and chose to buy millions of dollars of state Covid-19 tests from Digital Gadgets campaign donoralthough other options with a lower price tag.
He was praised by other elected officials for his focus on collaboration and building relationships. On Tuesday, he promised to be a different kind of leader than New York has seen in the executive branch.
“I will lead with strength and passion, not with fear and anger,” he said.