Hochul, Zeldin Headline Races to Watch on Election Day 2022 – NBC New York

In a state where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans two-to-one, it’s surprising to think the race for governor is not only close at the start of Election Day — but it may be a toss-up.

Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul is looking to become the state’s first elected female governor, but her clear and wide path to victory has gotten narrower as the race has worn on into the fall. Whereas she once at a double-digit lead in the polls over Republican candidate US Rep. Lee Zeldin, that lead has shrunk considerably, recent polling has shown.

Zeldin, who has represented his eastern Long Island district since 2014, hopes his heavy anti-crime messaging will help him further narrow the gap and oust Hochul.

Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul is running to become the state’s first elected female governor. She faces Republican US Rep. Lee Zeldin of Long Island. Here’s where they stand on the issues that voters care about.

“Kathy Hochul tried to change the subject — she wanted to get people to look away, stop focusing on this issue,” Zeldin said at a final campaign event Monday on Long Island.

While on the final day on the campaign trail in Manhattan, Hochul said that Zeldin “has been hyperventilating, trying to scare people” with his barrage of crime criticisms he has lobbed at her since the start of his campaign.

For Zeldin to overtake Hochul, he’ll have to limit his loss margins in New York City and try to win over independent voters throughout the rest of the state. Independent voters outnumber Republicans in New York.

Even though New York has turned less friendly for Republicans over the past decade, thanks in part to upstate population loss and a decrease in New Yorkers identifying as Republicans, Zeldin has a chance to become the first Republican elected to statewide office since former Gov. George Pataki, who served as governor from 1995 to 2006 (and who has endorsed Zeldin).

Melissa Russo reports.

Hochul is the former lieutenant governor who took office last year following the resignation of her predecessor former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who resigned to avoid a likely impeachment trial.

Hochul has stressed her support for abortion rights and acting on climate change. She has criticized Zeldin for supporting former President Donald Trump and for voting against certifying the 2020 election results. Zeldin has said he would favor appointing an anti-abortion state health commissioner and has Criticized millions of dollars spent to help abortion providers amid an expected surge in out-of-state critic patients.

Republicans represent eight out of New York’s 27 previous congressional districts going into the 2022 election, with New York set to lose one of those seats. Democrats tried to create new federal and legislative political maps that would have cemented solid liberal majorities statewide. An upstate judge ended up ordering new sets of maps drawn by an independent court master, whose maps gave Democrats a smaller edge.

Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election decisively in the state. Democrats currently control the governor’s office and enjoy supermajorities in both chambers of the state Legislature (the state House and state Senate) after years of Republican control of the state Senate.

Races to Watch

On the House of Representatives side, roughly a third of New York’s House races are viewed as competitive, with Republicans in play in races on Long Island and in the Hudson Valley.

In one of the most closely watched races in the country, US Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, the five-term Democrat who was supposed to be leading his party’s attempt to hold on to Congress, is fighting for survival in a district in the Hudson Valley against Michael Lawler, a small businessowner and state assemblyman. A little further north, Democrat Pat Ryan and Republican Colin Schmitt are squaring off in a race that is expected to be close as well.

News 4’s Andrew Siff reports.

In the race for New York’s 11th district, it’s round two for Republican Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, the incumbent, and Democrat Max Rose, who is looking to regain the seat he held from 2019 to 2021. He lost to Malliotakis in the 2020 election.

One closely watched race in upstate New York is in the Syracuse area, where Republican Rep. John Katko is leaving after four terms. That race pits Republican and US Navy veteran Brandon Williams against Democrat Francis Conole, a US Naval Academy graduate and current US Naval Reserve captain.

Across the river in New Jersey, Democratic incumbent Rep. Tom Malinowski is in a fierce battle to hold onto his seat for a third term in the state’s 7th Congressional district. He’s facing Tom Kean Jr., the son of former Gov. Tom Kean.

New Jersey Democrats added Democratic voters in districts that began a decade ago as Republican districts. That could make re-election prospects easier for some incumbents, including Mikie Sherrill in the 11th District and Andy Kim in the 3rd. But they didn’t sure up that 7th District, where the GOP ranks swelled. A good night for House Republicans could include a victory for Kean Jr. in the swingy district.

Overall, Republicans need to flip just a handful of seats (five) from blue to red in Washington to win control of the House of Representatives, and just a single seat in the US Senate.

With the senate currently knotted at 50-50, one race that has become especially important is in Pennsylvania. Dr. Mehmet Oz wants to keep the seat Republican, while Lt. Gov. John Fetterman hopes to give Democrats a clear Senate majority. Both candidates have stressed the importance of every single vote, as recent polls have indicated that the race between the two is very much neck-and-neck.

No matter what, there is a good chance many races locally and nationally will not be decided Tuesday night, as votes will be counted as the week continues. Here’s a look at what to expect on election night:

ELECTION NIGHT

Polls close at 9 pm ET. in New York, and at 8 pm in New Jersey and Connecticut.

HOW NEW YORK, NEW JERSEY AND CONNECTICUT VOTE

New York has expanded absentee voting amid the COVID-19 pandemic to allow voters to choose to vote by mail over fear of spreading the virus at the polls. A deluge of absentee ballots in 2020 led to some lengthy delays in vote-counting. Lawmakers passed a law requiring counties to start processing absentee ballots before Election Day in hopes of avoiding such delays. Republicans challenged the law in court, but a state appeals court ruled against them, saying it would be “extremely disruptive” to abandon the new system with voting already underway.

New York voters defeated a ballot referendum in 2021 that would have changed the state constitution to allow for no-excuse absentee voting. The state constitution requires absentee voters to be absent from their home county, ill, or physically disabled.

About 552,000 absentee ballots have been sent out with more than 188,000 returned so far, according to the state Board of Elections. Things happen quickly after the polls close. Because ballots have been flowing into country clerk offices for weeks — and are processed as they arrive — results from a huge chunk of the total vote are released within 90 minutes of polls closing at 7 pm local time.

Roughly two-thirds of voters in New York City are Democrats. Republicans enjoy the voter registration edge in western and northern New York counties. Republicans are also competitive on Long Island: About 30% of Nassau County voters are Republicans compared to 40% who are Democrats, while 31% of Suffolk County voters are Republicans compared to 34% who are Democrats.

The race for governor in New York leads the top of the ticket, but there are several other issues on the ballot that could have big implications for New Yorkers. News 4’s Andrew Siff reports on the proposals on the back of the ballot.

New Jersey has a mix of early mail and in-person voting, along with Election Day voting at polling places. Voters can get a mail-in ballot without an excuse and can vote by dropping ballots in drop boxes, the mailbox or taking them in person to their county seat. Early in-person voting runs from Oct. 29 through Nov. 6. New Jersey’s biggest bloc of voters is Democratic, followed by unaffiliated voters, then Republicans.

The majority of Connecticut votes on Election Day. The state does not allow early voting (though that is up for voters to decide this year if that will become an option in the future). In 2020, the state was still counting votes two days after the polls closed. Key areas are Bridgeport, New Haven, Stamford and Hartford, the larger cities where most of the population is. Democratic candidates for statewide and federal offices have typically dominated throughout the state.

What Else Should I Know?

Q: WHAT’S CHANGED IN NY, NJ, AND CT SINCE THE PANDEMIC ELECTION OF 2020?

A: A new law passed in 2021 allows the Board of Elections to begin processing mail ballots prior to Election Day, though it cannot begin tabulating results until an hour prior to the poll close on election day. Previously, absentee ballots could not be counted until seven days after election night. Mail ballots represented 21% of the 2020 vote in New York but will be a much smaller slice this year.

New York lost one US house seat in congressional redistricting. The New York Assembly and Senate have also been the subject of redistricting. Population losses upstate and gains downstate may impact the balance of power in congressional district and state senate races. Further re-districting of the state assembly has been ordered for 2024.

New Jersey in 2020 sent mail-in ballots to every registered voter, resulting in a flood of mail ballots that slowed vote counting and reporting of results. The state didn’t report total votes until Nov. 15. New Jersey enacted an early in- person voting measure in 2021, establishing a weeklong period of in-person voting that ends before Election Day. The state also allowed election officials to begin counting mail-in ballots before Election Day.

In Connecticut, earlier this year Lamont signed into law a bill that includes the broad term of “sickness” as a valid excuse for requesting an absentee ballot, aligning state law with existing language in the state’s constitution. The “sickness” excuse would apply to the individual voter’s health or someone else’s health, such as an ill relative.

Q: HOW LONG DOES COUNTING IN NY AND NJ USUALLY TAKE?

A: The first reports of voting results from New York City are expected to be received as early as 9:05 pm ET. We expect results from the rest of the state may start to trickle in about 20 minutes later. It is likely that these early vote totals will reflect advance and mail ballots. Returns will continue to come in over the next few hours.

For New Jersey, it’s hard to say because 2020 was an abnormal election. Because of COVID-19, the governor and Legislature chose to send mail ballots to all voters. Then lawmakers changed voting law to provide for early in-person voting in 2021. This year’s election will see a mix of mail, early in-person and Election Day voting.

Q: WHAT ARE THE PITFALLS WITH EARLY RETURNS?

A: The new election rules allowing quicker tabulation of mail ballots will have a major impact on early returns. The first votes will likely be a report of advance and mail ballots. As with other recent races, the use of mail ballots has shown a partisan divide, with Democrats far more likely to use mail ballots than Republicans. This means early results may be skewed to one party or the other depending on the types of votes reported.

Q: WHAT HAPPENS AFTER TUESDAY?

A: New York law provides for mandatory recounts if the margin of victory is 20 votes or less, is less than 0.5% or, in a contest where over 1 million ballots are cast, is less than 5,000 votes. This would occur after the state’s statutory recanvass.

For New Jersey, there is no automatic recount, and candidates would have to finance the cost of one if they sought one. Recounts aren’t a regular feature. In Connecticut, the law provides for mandatory recounts for races in which the lead is tighter than half of 1% of the total vote but not more than 1,000 votes.

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