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Hochul Bests Zeldin in Close Governor’s Race

Thu, 11/10/2022 - 06:30
Gov. Kathy Hochul, who was elevated to the state’s top spot after Andrew M. Cuomo resigned last year, has won her first full term.
Durell Godfrey

Gov. Kathy Hochul has apparently won her race against Representative Lee Zeldin of New York’s First Congressional District, but in a far closer contest than earlier polls had predicted. 

Shortly after 11 p.m. on Tuesday, NBC projected the race for the governor, and ABC followed soon after. Although Ms. Hochul, the former lieutenant governor who was elevated to the top spot in the wake of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s resignation in 2021, was comfortably ahead of Mr. Zeldin for most of the campaign, the race tightened significantly in the closing weeks. 

By yesterday, unofficial results posted on the New York State Board of Elections website had Ms. Hochul and her running mate, Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado, leading Mr. Zeldin and his running mate, Alison Esposito, 52.7 percent to Mr. Zeldin’s 47.3, with 93 percent of votes in.

The board of elections was reporting 2,949,425 votes for Governor Hochul and 2,656,293 votes for Mr. Zeldin. The New York Times, at 11:30 a.m. yesterday had the governor winning 3,031,877 votes to Mr. Zeldin’s 2,727,152, or 52.6 percent to 47.4 percent, with 94 percent of votes in. 

Should the result hold, Ms. Hochul, New York’s first female governor, will have been elected in her own right. 

The Suffolk County Board of Elections website showed Mr. Zeldin, of Shirley, decisively winning in the county. With 1,042 of 1,058 election districts reporting as of yesterday morning, Mr. Zeldin had won 323,960 votes in the county to the governor’s 228,532, votes, or 58.54 to 41.3 percent.   

The governor spoke to supporters in Manhattan after the networks called the race. “Together, we will ensure our values are put to work to lift up all and leave no one behind,” she said, “building a state where we can afford to raise our families, where we create good paying jobs in the industries of tomorrow — from Long Island to New York City, to Syracuse to Buffalo, where we expand safe, decent housing for all, where our kids succeed in school and reach their full potential, where we live without fear, safe in our neighborhoods and our subways, with illegal guns off our street, where our fundamental rights are protected and women can make decisions about our own bodies.”

Mr. Zeldin conceded the race yesterday afternoon, congratulating Ms. Hochul on her election. “Those controlling Albany should take note,” he said. “New Yorkers of all walks of life are sick of the tracks on their wallets, their safety, their freedoms, and the quality of their kids’ education and are hitting the breaking point, as proven by these results. As they take office in January, Gov. Kathy Hochul and those controlling Albany must address the grave concerns voiced by the voters.”

Mr. Zeldin will apparently leave government at year’s end, having given up his seat in the House of Representatives to run for governor. The Republican Nick LaLota will take his place in the House of Representatives, having bested County Legislator Bridget Fleming of Southampton 55.81 percent to 44.09 percent. That race is covered elsewhere in today’s paper.

The Suffolk County Board of Elections website had posted no results as of 11:30 p.m. on Tuesday, and the New York State Board of Elections site had no results listed for Suffolk County either, the lack of online reporting likely the result of a September malware attack that crippled the county’s computer systems. 

The county board of elections sent 48,635 mail ballots to voters, and had received 32,167 as of Monday. Mail ballots had to be postmarked by Tuesday, Nov. 8, and must be received by the board of elections by Tuesday, Nov. 15, in order to be counted, so an official tally is several days to several weeks away. 

Votes cast during the early voting period, Oct. 29 through Sunday, were to be tallied and made public after Tuesday’s 9 p.m. close of polling stations. They were scanned as they were received, a board of elections official told The Star on Tuesday, but would not be tallied until after the polls closed. 

A host of government functions and policies hinge on the contest, including gun policy, criminal justice, and abortion rights, though Mr. Zeldin downplayed any influence he could have had on the latter. His focus was on violent crime, which he made a centerpiece of his campaign. A shooting near his residence last month underscored his message. 

Attorneys for the family of a man shot and killed by New York City police officers in 2018 issued a cease-and-desist letter over one of Mr. Zeldin’s campaign advertisements which depicts the man’s final moments. The ad claims to show “actual violent crimes caught on camera in Kathy Hochul’s New York,” though the incident occurred three years before she became governor. 

Mr. Zeldin’s campaign is also under investigation by the State Board of Elections regarding potential violation of state law for coordinating with two political action committees supporting his candidacy. And the cosmetics heir Ronald Lauder, who owns an estate in Wainscott, has emerged as a lead donor to those organizations, known as superPACs, spending more than $11 million to elect Mr. Zeldin, The New York Times reported this week. 

Mr. Lauder is an opponent of the plan to land the South Fork Wind Farm’s export cable in Wainscott, a project Governor Hochul supports. She was among the officials taking part in a ceremonial groundbreaking for the wind farm at LTV Studios in Wainscott in February. 

While most polls showed the governor, running on the Democratic and Working Families Party lines, leading her Republican and Conservative Party challenger, the race tightened considerably in lead-up to Election Day, with Mr. Zeldin predicting a “red tsunami” that would sweep him into office amid midterm elections that almost always favor the party that does not control the White House. A handful of polls put Mr. Zeldin ahead of or tied with the governor, but Ms. Hochul never trailed in the majority of polling firms’ prognostications. 

The candidates disagreed on virtually everything in their sole debate on Oct. 25. The governor repeatedly tied the congressman to former President Trump and the effort to overturn his 2020 election defeat, while Mr. Zeldin, who would not utter the former president’s name, called Ms. Hochul pro-criminal and corrupt. 

Mr. Zeldin supported Mr. Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election results after his defeat, voting against certifying the results in two states on Jan. 6, 2021, hours after the insurrection at the United States Capitol, encouraged and cheered by the defeated former president. Previously, he defended Mr. Trump through two impeachments and, in December 2020, filed an amicus brief supporting a lawsuit that asked the Supreme Court to disenfranchise some 20 million voters in four states won by President Biden.


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