Kathy Hochul is Democratic Nominee for New York Governor, Lee Zeldin is GOP Candidate

Guests mingle while waiting for New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado to arrive at their primary election night party, Tuesday, June 28, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

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 was serving as an under-the-radar lieutenant governor under the shadow of former Gov. Andrew Cuomo until last year, when he resigned amid harassment allegations, catapulting her into office.

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.

In a nod to the barrier-breaking campaign, Hochul was due to give an election night speech Tuesday on a stage underneath a glass ceiling at an event space in Manhattan.

Hochul enters the general election campaign with a big advantage, running as the incumbent with a heavy fundraising advantage in a state that has more than twice as many registered Democrats than Republicans and has not had a GOP governor in 16 years.

“Congratulations Governor Kathy Hochul for her victory. Our endorsement in the primary was an easy choice for us. Governor Hochul stood with our community and expressed her respect for our religious observances and rights. We look forward to continue working with her administration,” said Rabbi David Niederman of UJO of Williamsburg.

“The FJCC Congratulates Governor Kathy Hochul and Congressman Lee Zeldin on their primary wins tonight,” said Josh Mehlman, chairman of the FJCC. “The FJCC supported Governor Hochul in the Democratic primary, and Congressman Zeldin in the Republican primary.

“As the general election season heats up, FJCC leaders will be laser focused on several critical issues, most notably public safety, support and recognition of our Yeshivas, and the deteriorating quality of life and business climate. We look forward to serious in-depth conversations with both Governor Hochul and Congressman Zeldin as they seek the Flatbush community’s electoral support in November.”

“We hosted the Governor last week. We were very impressed on her stance related to yeshiva education and her conviction to make NY safer,” said Joel Rosenfeld of Bobov, who had endorsed Hochul in primary. “We congratulate her on her win and look forward to continuing dialogue.”

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. She has made bolstering these rights a key plank of her campaign, while three of the four candidates on the Republican side are pro-life.

The GOP candidates include U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin, and Andrew Giuliani, the son of New York’s former mayor.

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. Those elections were delayed because of a redistricting lawsuit that led a court to throw out new political maps.

Turnout was light in New York City, with the city board of elections reporting about 370,000 voters checked in to vote by 6 p.m. The city has more than 4 million registered Democrats and Republicans combined who are eligible to vote in the primaries. Light turnout was also reported in the Buffalo-area and in Long Island’s Nassau and Suffolk counties.

Since taking office in August, Hochul has sought to step out from Cuomo’s shadow, promising a clean break from his administration. She has said she was not close to the former governor, who has denied wrongdoing, and was not around to witness any alleged 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. Despite suggesting he might run as an independent, the former governor ultimately did not file to run.

Lee Zeldin, the frontrunner in the Republican contest, is projected to win the GOP nod for governor, and had the endorsement of the state’s Republican Party and Conservative Party.

Zeldin, an Army Reserve lieutenant colonel who has represented eastern Long Island in Congress since 2015, is a staunch ally of former President Donald Trump and was among the Republicans who voted against certifying the 2020 election results.

“Lee Zeldin shares our values, whether its on yeshiva education, criminal justice, sanctity of life, supporting Israel or combatting BDS,” said Michael Fragin, senior advisor to the chairman of the New York Republican Party. “Lee Zeldin will fight for us on every issue. Our community should not allow itself to be a political punching bag anymore.”

Joseph Cairo, Nassau County GOP chairman told Hamodia, “We had a great night tonight. Lee is going to get 60% of the vote when it’s all tallied. But more importantly, we’re a team; Giuliani, Astorino, Wilson, they’ll all come on board, and we can win despite the enrollment advantage that Democrats have. This is the year the people are going to speak. It ain’t a red wave as Alison Esposito said. It’s a common sense wave which will carry us right through November 8th.”

Suozzi, a centrist who has not shied away from embracing Cuomo, was the only Democrat on the debate stage to say he would accept the former governor’s endorsement and said he was still “very popular” despite his “baggage.” He also echoed Cuomo’s comments calling for Hochul to toughen the state’s bail laws.

Hochul focused her campaign on steps she took to bolster the rights overturned by the Supreme Court decision, and moves to toughen the state’s gun laws after a racist mass shooting in Buffalo.

Suozzi and Williams criticized her for her endorsement a decade ago from the National Rifle Association and over her plan to spend more than $1.1 billion in state and county funds on building and maintaining a new stadium for her hometown Buffalo Bills.

She also faced questions about her choice for lieutenant governor, Brian Benjamin, who was arrested on federal corruption charges in April related to his campaign funds.

Benjamin pleaded not guilty and denied wrongdoing. Hochul pointed to the short time frame she had to pick a No. 2 and said she had been assured that any questions previously raised about Benjamin’s campaign fundraising had been resolved.

Hochul replaced Benjamin with Antonio Delgado, who stepped down from his seat in Congress to accept the role. Delgado, also Hochul’s choice for a running mate, won his primary Tuesday.

Suozzi opted to run against Hochul instead of running what was expected to be a tough reelection race for his House seat this year. He made one unsuccessful run for governor before in 2006, but lost the Democratic nomination to Eliot Spitzer.

Williams, the most unabashedly progressive in the race, was often seen wearing a “Stay Woke” button on his lapel. He has been arrested several times for civil disobedience at demonstrations against immigration enforcement and police misconduct.

Zeldin’s most high-profile challenger is Andrew Giuliani, the 36-year-old son of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who frequently campaigned for his son.

Though Rudy Giuliani was once hailed as a national hero for leading the city through 9/11, he’s become a deeply divisive figure in New York for his work to try to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

The younger Giuliani often repeated his father’s claims that Trump won the 2020 election. Giuliani has never run for public office but worked as an aide in Trump’s White House and then as a commentator on the conservative network Newsmax.

He first gained public attention as a child when he stood next to his father at the elder Giuliani’s 1994 mayoral inauguration, mimicking his gestures and repeating some of his words.

The other Republican candidates include former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, a conservative former radio show host and radio executive, and businessman Harry Wilson, the most moderate of the GOP field, who served as a U.S. Treasury Department advisor under former President Barack Obama.

Click here to read Hamodia’s interview with Rep. Zeldin.

Gov Hochul has not granted Hamodia an interview despite repeated requests.

With reporting by AP

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