Governor Kathy Hochul handily won the Democratic gubernatorial primary Tuesday night, moving her one step closer to her first full term as the state’s top executive.
The governor captured the Democratic nomination with about 60 percent of the vote of the 91 percent scanners counted in an unofficial tally. City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams Congress came in second with about 28 percent of the vote and U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D – Long Island, Queens) followed with about 12 percent, according the unofficial voting results.
“I stand on the shoulders of generations of women, constantly having to [go] up against that glass ceiling. To the women of New York, this one’s for you,” Hochul said. “
Hochul spoke to her accomplishments so far and set her sights on the general election.
“As we move forward, we must answer one question: are we going to move New York forward or let the far right take our state backwards,” she said. “There’s only one party that can take our state forward. And who’s that? That’s the Democratic Party.”
Antonio Delgado, Hochul’s lieutenant governor, will be her running mate in the general election after overcoming challengers Diana Reyna and Ana Maria Archila – who were running alongside Suozzi and Williams respectively.
Over at the Jumaane Williams’ watch party, the public advocate conceded the race. Williams said he knew this race would be an uphill battle but his work to actualize a more progressive vision for New York continues.
“We knew from day 1 that this campaign would be an uphill climb, but every path I’ve taken, every campaign I’ve run has been for damn sure uphill,” Williams said. “We don’t have to accept the status quo, or the crumbs that get cast down to us in order to maintain it. We don’t have to let the things that have always been stand in the way of things the way they could be.”
City Comptroller Brad Lander – a strong supporter of the Williams/Archila ticket – said he proud of both the candidates he supported.
“When you get outspent $20 million to $1, and you still show there are a very large percentage of New Yorkers hungry for stronger protections for tenants, more investments in affordable housing. Especially to have Ana Maria out there after the Roe decision, you keep organizing because you really believe,” said Lander.
“Let’s remember, four years from now, New York State has public matching funds in its statewide races. But not tonight. It’s made a huge difference in New York City, the difference the matching funds program has made in New York City has been quite extraordinary,” he added.
At the Suozzi camp in Glen Cove, the Long Island and Queens rep said he doesn’t regret running this campaign because he gave voice to issues many New Yorkers care about.
Suozzi said, early in the race, people asked him, “‘If you knew you were gonna lose, would you still run anyway?’ I said ‘yes, I would because there is a message that has to be gotten out to the state of NY, to our democratic party about what we need to do going forward.'”
Hochul became the state’s first woman governor last summer, taking over for her predecessor Andrew Cuomo – who stepped down after being hit with nearly a dozen accusations of sexual misconduct spanning his decade in office. Before becoming Cuomo’s lieutenant governor in 2015, Hochul represented a western New York district in Congress for two years and served as Erie County clerk prior to that.
The governor sailed to her commanding victory, holding significant fundraising and endorsement advantages over Suozzi and Williams. But while Hochul raked in cash and nods from fellow electeds and influential labor unions, she reportedly hasn’t put much effort into campaigning in the final weeks of the election, when most campaigns go into overdrive.
It wasn’t always so clear that Hochul would capture the Democratic nomination. Last fall, she briefly faced a formidible challenge from popular state Attorney General Letitia James – who’s investigation into Cuomo’s sexual harrasment accusations is what ultimately toppled the disgraced former governor. But in the end, James decided to withdraw from the race in December to run for reelection as attorney general.
Then Hochul hit a significant rough patch this spring when she drew criticism for delivering her first state budget deal a week late and for her successful push to include a $600 million tax break funding the construction of a new Buffalo Bills stadium in the spending plan. Adding insult to injury, Hochul’s first lieutenant governor Brian Benjamin resigned following his arrest and indictment on federal corruption and bribery charges.
Throughout the last few months of the campaign and during two recent debates, Suozzi and Williams attacked Hochul on both the Bills stadium and Benjamin’s arrest, trying to draw a connection between her and the disgraced Cuomo administration.
But Hochul was able to bounce back with some significant wins at the end of the state legislative session earlier this month. That included bills to further protect the right to abortion in New York after a draft U.S. Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe v. Wade – which the court officially decided to throw out last week – was leaked early last month. And a package of gun control bills in response to recent mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde Texas, that together claimed the lives of 31 people – 19 of them being children.
Hochul will face off against Congress Member Lee Zeldin (R – Long Island) in a November general election, after Zeldin narrowly won the Republican nomination. The Long Island rep just edged out Andrew Giuliani – son of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, while former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino and businessman Harry Wilson came in a distant third and fourth place.
-Reporter Ben Brachfeld and Editor Timothy Bolger contributed to this story.