BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Kathy Hochul’s 14 months in the governor’s mansion seemingly did enough to convince New Yorkers to give the state’s first female leader a full term.
Hochul, a Democrat, declared victory over Long Island Republican Lee Zeldin Tuesday night following a tougher-than-anticipated race.
“I’m deeply honored to be elected Governor of the State of New York,” Hochul tweeted. Zeldin did not concede the race in a speech Tuesday night, though the Associated Press, CNN, CBS, NBC and ABC all projected Hochul as the winner.
“Enjoy the open bar and enjoy watching the results,” Zeldin told his supporters, “because what you’re about to see is that this will continue to get closer and closer and closer and closer as the night goes on.”
Hochul had been auditioning for the job since becoming New York’s 57th governor in late August 2021 after Andrew Cuomo resigned from office. She frequently pointed to success passing tougher gun laws and safeguarding abortion access and reproductive rights while on the campaign trail.
Hochul also helped negotiate a new stadium deal for the Buffalo Bills while distancing herself from the scandals of the Cuomo administration and her first Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin, who resigned in April following an arrest on campaign finance charges. Those accomplishments – as well as residing in a deep-blue state – helped her hold off Zeldin and earn her four more years in office.
Zeldin, who represents New York’s 1st Congressional District in Suffolk County, found success focusing on crime during the race, narrowing a gap in the polls by hitting Hochul on bail reform and focusing on high-profile crimes in New York City and beyond. He also benefitted from national support behind a “red wave” Republicans hoped for heading into Election Day and a full-throated endorsement from Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post, which dedicated several front pages to advocate for his candidacy. Hochul also attacked him as an election denier because he voted against certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election.
Hochul’s victory marks the first time a woman has been elected to the governor’s mansion. She’s also the first upstate governor elected in over a century — not since Cortland County’s Nathan L. Miller was elected in 1920 has the governor held a true upstate background.
A win from Zeldin would have made him the first Republican governor of New York since George Pataki, who held the office from 1995 through 2006.
This is a developing news story, check back for updates.
* * *
Nick Veronica is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team as a Digital Executive Producer in 2021. He previously worked at NBC Sports and The Buffalo News. You can follow Nick on Facebook and Twitter and find more of his work here.