Kathy Hochul is the Democratic candidate for Governor of New York
NEW YORK (AP) — Nine months after taking office as New York governor as a relative unknown, Democrat Kathy Hochul easily locked down her party’s nomination on Tuesday, putting her on track to win the job by november.
Hochul served as an under-the-radar lieutenant governor under the shadow of former Governor Andrew Cuomo until last year when he resigned amid sexual harassment allegations, catapulting her to power.
Hochul on Tuesday brushed off major challenges from elected New York public attorney Jumaane Williams and U.S. Representative Tom Suozzi, a Long Island moderate. She’s now set her sights on becoming the first woman to win the New York Governor’s Office election this fall.
In a nod to the Breaking Barriers campaign, Hochul was scheduled to deliver an election night speech Tuesday on a stage under a glass ceiling at an event space in Manhattan.
Hochul enters the general election campaign with a big advantage, casting himself as the incumbent with a big fundraising advantage in a state that has more than twice as many registered Democrats as Republicans and has no had been a GOP governor for 16 years.
Hochul’s outlook should be even stronger this fall after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade establishing the right to abortion. She has made strengthening abortion rights a key part of her campaign, while three of the four candidates on the Republican side are anti-abortion.
GOP candidates include U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin and Andrew Giuliani, the former New York mayor’s son.
Tuesday’s election in New York covered state offices and State Assembly races, but primary elections for U.S. House seats and the state Senate will have take place on August 23. These elections were delayed due to a redistricting lawsuit which led to a court throwing out new political maps.
Turnout was low in New York City, with the City Board of Elections reporting that about 370,000 voters registered to vote as of 6 p.m. The city has more than 4 million registered Democrats and Republicans eligible to vote in the primaries. Low turnout was also reported in the Buffalo area and Nassau and Suffolk counties on Long Island.
Since taking office in August, Hochul has sought to step out of Cuomo’s shadow, promising a clean break from his administration. She said she was not close to the former governor, who denied any wrongdoing, and was not there to witness any alleged misconduct.
Still, Cuomo’s presence weighed on his campaign early on when he began making public appearances last spring, criticizing Hochul and the Albany Democrats for their approach to crime and suggesting he might run for his old job. Although he suggested he might run as an independent, the former governor ultimately did not file a candidacy.
Suozzi, a centrist who hasn’t been shy about 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 on Hochul to toughen state bail laws.
Hochul has focused her campaign on steps she has taken to strengthen abortion rights and moves to toughen state gun laws after a racist shooting in Buffalo.
Suozzi and Williams criticized her for her endorsement a decade ago of the National Rifle Association and her plans to spend more than $1.1 billion in state and county funds to build and maintain a new stadium for his hometown Buffalo Bills.
She also faced questions about her choice of lieutenant governor, Brian Benjamin, who was arrested in April on federal corruption charges related to his campaign funds.
Benjamin pleaded not guilty and denied any wrongdoing. Hochul pointed to the short time she had to choose a No. 2 and said she had been assured that any issues previously raised about Benjamin’s campaign fundraising had been resolved.
Hochul replaced Benjamin with Antonio Delgado, who resigned his congressional seat to accept the role. Delgado, also chosen by Hochul as running mate, won his primary on Tuesday.
Suozzi chose to run against Hochul instead of running what was expected to be a tough re-election race for his House seat this year. He previously made an unsuccessful run for governor in 2006, but lost the Democratic nomination to Eliot Spitzer.
Williams, the most staunchly progressive in the race, was often seen sporting a “Stay Woke” button on his lapel. He has been arrested multiple times for civil disobedience during protests against immigration enforcement and police misconduct.
The Republican contest favorite is Zeldin, which has the endorsement of both the Republican Party and the state’s 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 certification of the results. 2020 elections.
His most prominent challenger is Andrew Giuliani, the 36-year-old son of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who has often campaigned for his son.
Although Rudy Giuliani was previously hailed as a national hero for leading the city through 9/11, he has become a deeply controversial figure in New York for his work to overturn the 2020 election results.
Young Giuliani often repeated his father’s baseless claims that Trump had won the 2020 election. Giuliani never ran for public office, but worked as Trump’s White House aide and later as a commentator on the conservative Newsmax network.
He first came to public attention as a child when he stood next to his father at the elder Giuliani’s mayoral inauguration in 1994, mimicking his gestures and repeating some of his words. His antics at the age of 7 were parodied by Chris Farley in “Saturday Night Live”.
Other Republican candidates include former Westchester County executive Rob Astorino, a former Conservative radio host and radio executive, and businessman Harry Wilson, who served as an adviser to the US Treasury Department under the former President Barack Obama. Wilson is the most moderate in the GOP field and was the only candidate of the four Republicans who said he supports abortion rights.