NEW YORK — Nine months after she stepped into the job of New York governor as a relative unknown, Democrat Kathy Hochul easily locked up her party’s nomination Tuesday, setting her on an expected glide path to win the office in November.
Hochul had been serving under the radar as a lieutenant governor, under the guidance of former Gov. Andrew Cuomo served as a lieutenant governor under the shadow of former Gov. Hochul was promoted to office last year after he quit amid allegations of sexual harassment.
Continue reading: Kathy Hochul Was Faced with Childcare Struggles and Sexualism at Work Now She’s New York’s First Woman Governor
Hochul beat back primary challenges Tuesday from New York City’s elected public advocate, Jumaane Williams, and U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi, a moderate from Long Island. She now turns her eyes to becoming the first woman to win election to the New York governor’s office this fall.
Hochul made a speech on Tuesday night in a nod towards the campaign to break barriers. Hochul spoke from a podium under a glass roof at an Manhattan event space.
“I’m also here because I stand on the shoulders of generations of women, generations of women who constantly had to bang up against that glass ceiling. To the women of New York, this one’s for you,” Hochul said.
Hochul goes into the general election campaign as an incumbent, with significant fundraising advantages in a state where there are more Democrats than Republicans. The state has also had no Republican governor in sixteen years.
She faces U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin, who won the Republican Party’s nomination Tuesday. Zeldin was a strong ally of President Donald Trump. He also voted against the certification process for 2020’s election results.
“Are we ready to fire Kathy Hochul?” Zeldin said to cheers as he spoke at a victory party on Long Island.
Long Island Congressman, George Pataki, will attempt to be the first Republican elected governor of New York. George Pataki was elected to a second term in 2002.
“This November, in the state of New York, one-party rule will end,” he said. “Kathy Hochul will get fired. We will restore balance and common sense to Albany again.”
Hochul’s prospects are expected to be even stronger this fall after the U.S. Supreme Court last week overturned the Roe v. Wade decision establishing abortion rights. Her campaign has made the promotion of abortion rights a major plank.
Continue reading: Roe’s Fall May Help Democrats in the Midterms.
Hochul repeated that in her Tuesday night speech, proclaiming that the state had “gone on offense to protect abortion rights” and “making the world know that New York State is a safe harbor for America’s women.”
Since taking office in August, Hochul has sought to step out from Cuomo’s shadow, promising a clean break from his administration. Hochul has stated that she wasn’t close to Cuomo, the ex-governor, and has not been present to see any misbehavior.
Still, Cuomo’s presence loomed over her campaign early on when he began making public appearances this past spring, criticizing Hochul and Democrats in Albany over their approach to crime and suggesting he might run for his old job. The former governor suggested he could run for independent but he did not actually file.
Zeldin, an Army Reserve lieutenant Colonelel, has represented eastern Long Island at Congress since 2015.
He defeated primary challenges from former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, businessman Harry Wilson and Andrew Giuliani, the son of New York City’s former mayor Rudy Giuliani, who frequently campaigned for his son.
He has focused his campaign on rising crime and criticized Hochul for not toughening the state’s bail laws, for imposing COVID-19 mitigation mandates and for rising costs. And despite Hochul seeking to project a fresh start from Cuomo, Zeldin has referred repeatedly to the “Cuomo-Hochul Administration.”
“New Yorkers are hitting their breaking point. They’re deciding whether or not to stay here or head to other places,” he said.
He will have to persuade the state’s independent voters, which outnumber Republicans, along with Democrats in order to win the general election. Democrats are expected to focus on Zeldin’s vocal defense of Trump during both of his impeachments and objection to the election results. Hochul is also likely to focus on Zeldin’s statements praising the U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade and his comment that, as governor, he would appoint an anti-abortion state health commissioner.
“We must answer one question,” she said Tuesday night. “Are we going to move New York forward, or let the far-right extremist drag our state backwards?”
Hochul focused her campaign on steps she took to bolster abortion rights and moves to toughen the state’s gun laws after a racist mass shooting in Buffalo.
Continue reading: What Safe Haven States Are able to Do for Abortion
Suozzi and Williams criticised her over Williams’ endorsement of her a decade earlier from the National Rifle Association, and about her plan to use more than $1.1billion in county and state funds for building and maintaining a new stadium at her Buffalo Bills home.
Also, she was confronted with questions about Brian Benjamin’s choice as lieutenant- governor. He was also arrested in April for federal corruption related to campaign funds.
Benjamin was not charged and pleaded guilty to wrongdoing. Hochul pointed out the limited time that she had to select a No. 2 and said she had been assured that any questions previously raised about Benjamin’s campaign fundraising had been resolved.
Hochul was replaced by Antonio Delgado who took his place in Congress and accepted the position. Delgado, also Hochul’s choice for a running mate, won his primary Tuesday. Zeldin’s running mate Alison Esposito is the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor.
Tuesday’s election in New York covered statewide offices and state Assembly races, but primary elections for U.S. House seats and the state Senate will be held Aug. 23. Redistricting litigation caused delays in these elections. A court ordered the removal of new maps.
— This report was contributed by Michael R. Sisak, New York Associated Press reporter.
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