Four takeaways from New York’s Midterm elections

New York, Midterms
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks to supporters during her election night party, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, in New York.
(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

On Tuesday night Governor Kathy Hochul nabbed her first full term in office, as the first woman ever to be elected governor of New York, staving off a challenge from GOP Rep. Lee Zeldin in a race that was far closer than expected – according to unofficial results from the state Board of Elections (BOE). 

Other Democrats at the top of the ticket easily turned away Republican challengers Tuesday night, including U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, state Attorney General Letitia James and state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli. 

However, Republicans look to have made some significant gains in Congress, by flipping four seats in their favor, and may still break the Democrats’ supermajority in the state Senate. The GOP also fared well in several southern Brooklyn races for state Senate and Assembly.

Below are four election takeaways from the PoliticsNY news team.

Tightest governor’s race in decades

While Hochul may have eked out a victory Tuesday night, she only won by roughly 6 percentage points, with 94% of precincts reporting.

That’s on pace to be the slimmest margin any New York governor has won by since 1994, when former Governor George Pataki upset Mario Cuomo. In a statement conceding the race to Hochul Wednesday, Zeldin emphasized the slim margin in a solidly blue state like New York.

“This race was a once in a generation campaign, with a very close margin in the bluest of blue states,” Zeldin said. “The unrelenting passion and hard work of our grassroots volunteers and supporters made this incredibly close race possible and helped us win at least 49 of New York’s 62 counties. Republicans, Democrats and Independents united as New Yorkers, pouring their heart and soul into this campaign.”

U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin at his election night watch party at Cipriani in Midtown Manhattan. Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022.Photo by Dean Moses/amNY File

The race was far closer than initially expected, as Zeldin picked up momentum in several public surveys in the weeks leading up the election, after trailing Hochul by double digits for much of the summer. Zeldin’s rise in the polls seemed to be fueled by his almost singular focus on crime and the help of wealthy cosmetics heir Ronald Lauder, who dumped $11 million into super PACs supporting his campaign.

Hochul was able to come out on top with a large boost from Democratic voter-rich New York City, which she won by nearly 70% – compared to Zeldin’s 30% – with 97% of the vote counted, according to unofficial results from the city BOE. 

However, Zeldin performed better than expected in Queens compared to the 2018 Republican nominee Marc Molinaro, who was defeated by ex-Governor Andrew Cuomo. He also drew massive support from Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish enclaves in Borough Park, Midwood and Williamsburg.

GOP gains 4 NY House seats

Republicans’ efforts to retake the House nationally will surely be helped by four seats they’re on track to flip from blue to red on Long Island and in the Hudson Valley.

The Long Island seats include outgoing U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi’s Congressional District 3, which he vacated to launch an ultimately unsuccessful run for governor earlier this year, and Congressional District 4 – currently held by outgoing U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice.

As of Wednesday afternoon, unofficial BOE tabulations showed Republicans Goerge Santos – a Wall Street financier – and Hempstead Town Council Member Anthony D-Esposito on pace to win their races in the 3rd and 4rth Districts responsively. Both declared victory over their Democratic opponents Robert Zimmerman and Laura Gillen Tuesday night.

According to reporting from the Long Island Press, D-Esposito celebrated nabbing a seat that has been under Democratic control for nearly three decades at his election night watch party on the south shore of Nassau County.

“We took a seat that’s been in Democrat hands for 25 years and took it,” D’Esposito said. “And I look forward to joining the rest of the Long Island delegation down in Washington, D.C. to be that voice. We together are going to have a loud voice delivering Long Island’s message to the halls of Capitol Hill.”

Anthony D’Esposito celebrates his win in New York 4th congressional district.Photo by Briana Bonfiglio/Long Island Press File

In the Hudson Valley, U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney – chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) – lost his reelection bid in the 17th District to Republican Assembly Member Mike Lawler. Maloney conceded the race to Lawler late Wednesday morning.

Although he currently represents the 18th District, Maloney ran in CD17 following this year’s redistricting because he thought it would be more advantageous to his reelection chances – pushing out the district’s current Rep. Mondaire Jones in the process.

Additionally, Marc Molinaro came out victorious in the contest for the 19th District against Democratic rival Josh Riley. The district was an open seat after its current representative U.S. Rep. Pat Ryan instead ran in CD18, where he looks to have overcome his GOP competitor Colin Schmitt.

Donald Trump has a very bad night 

With Democrats in power over a slumping economy and an increasing crisis at the border, among other issues the predicted red wave never came and the divisive former President Donald Trump has to shoulder some of the blame for his denial that he lost the 2020 Presidential election and the Jan. 6 insurrection.

FILE PHOTO: Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a rally to boost Ohio Republican candidates ahead of their May 3 primary election, at the county fairgrounds in Delaware, Ohio, U.S. April 23, 2022. REUTERS/Gaelen Morse/File Photo/File Photo

The former president backed several losing Republicans in key national elections. This included in Pennsylvania where Democrat Josh Shapiro romped over Republican Doug Mastriano in the governor’s race and Democrat John Fetterman bested Mehmet Oz, a Republican, to flip control of a U.S. Senate seat.

In Georgia, Trump’s candidate Herschel Walker remains in play but could not defeat Sen. Raphael Warnock. Meanwhile, Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, who stood up to Trump when he contested the 2020 presidential results, easily beat Democrat Stacey Abrams in his re-election bid.

Additionally, Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis won re-election in a landslide, and expected to present a real challenge to Trump should he run for president again.

GOP romps in Southern Brooklyn

Republicans in Brooklyn, who have not held an assembly seat entirely in the borough since Arnaldo A. Ferraro served, in 1985-86, flipped three seats if the figures hold up.

Lester Chang
Alec Brook-Krasny

In the 46th Assembly District, Republican Alec Brook-Krasny remains narrowly ahead of incumbent Democratic Assembly Member Mathylde Frontus. Meanwhile, two longtime Democratic Assembly Members Steven Cymbrowitz in the 45th Assembly District, and Peter Abbate in the 49th Assembly District lost convincingly to Republican Michael Novakhov and Lester Chang.

I believe we [Republicans] picked up sis assembly seats statewide and three of them came from Brooklyn once they are certified,” said Brooklyn GOP Chair Ted Ghorra. “We have been working to build a party so we can have a terrific two party system. And we’re continuing to work in that direction. I’m going to continue to work hard, because people need to be represented by representatives that are going to work hard and represent the constituents.”