Kathy Hochul Becomes 1st Woman Elected Governor of New York – NBC New York

Kathy Hochulwho became New York’s governor when her predecessor Andrew Cuomo resigned amid scandal, made history Tuesday by becoming the first woman to win election to the job.

After a closer-than-expected contest against Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin, NBC News declared Hochul the projected winner. Hochul, speaking at a stage in New York City under a glass ceiling, declared victory late Tuesday evening.

“I have felt a weight on my shoulders to make sure that every little girl and all the women of the state who’ve had to bang up against glass ceilings everywhere they turn, to know that a woman could be elected in her own right and successfully govern a state as rough and tumble as New York,” she said.

Zeldin acknowledged that he was trailing, but he told the crowd he expected a “massive” victory in parts of Long Island where few voting results had been reported as of midnight. The dearth of votes comes mostly from Suffolk County, where Zeldin lives.

“We hope as these results come in that we’ll be able to prevail,” he said at his election night party in Manhattan.

Though Hochul has been governor for a year, she is not as well known as her predecessor. Cuomo was known for his aggressive style and became a national media fixture for his pandemic briefings before his tenure was overshadowed by scandal.

Hochul, a former congresswoman, was serving as Cuomo’s low-profile lieutenant governor before taking over in August 2021 when he resigned amid sexual harassment allegations, which he denies. She has tried to cast herself as a fresh change from Cuomo, promising more collaboration and transparency while trying to steer the state through the pandemic aftereffects.

The Buffalo native’s formidable campaign fundraising brought in about $50 million, which she’s used to fund a smattering of campaign ads staking herself as a defender of abortion rights and portraying Zeldin, who hails from Long Island, as “extreme and dangerous” because of his ties to Trump and his vote against certifying the 2020 election results.

Hochul’s one-time clear and wide path to victory became shaky in the final stretch of the election as Zeldin tapped into voter fears about violent crime and made the race competition. Zeldin, an ally of former President Donald Trump who objected to the 2020 election results , made appeals to scared suburbanites and rattled urbanites amid a string of high-profile violent incidents.

The issue of crime is one that Republicans had been running on across the country and nowhere is its saliency more on display than in the campaign of Zeldin, who has harnessed it to carve a potential path to win in the blue state and become the first Republican elected New York governor in two decades.

As Zeldin’s message appeared to be resonating in the final month, Democrats found themselves on the defensive.

Hochul began speaking more about public safety, including announcing an effort to deploy more officers to New York City subways and called in Democratic heavy hitters to rally with her in the final days, including Vice President Kamala Harris and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Zeldin is an Army Reserve lieutenant colonel who has represented eastern Long Island in Congress since 2015. He was a vocal defender of Trump during his two impeachments and as a member of the US House voted against certifying Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory.

As he ran to lead New York, Zeldin downplayed his ties to Trump, appearing with the former president at a closed-door campaign fundraiser but not at any public rallies, as candidates elsewhere have done.

He focused almost exclusively on sending a message that violent crime is out of control — casting blame on policies passed by Democrats in Albany who control the Legislature, along with Hochul and Cuomo.

Rates of violent crime and killings have broadly increased around the US since the coronavirus pandemic, in some places climbing from historic lows.

The issue became personal for Zeldin in the final month of the election, when two teenage boys were wounded in a drive-by-shooting in front of his Long Island home.

“It doesn’t hit any closer to home than this,” Zeldin said. “This could be anyone across this entire state.”

He called for toughening the state’s bail laws and declaring a crime “emergency” that would allow him to suspend laws that curb solitary confinement in jails and that stopped automatically treating 16 and 17-year-olds as adults in the criminal justice system.

Hochul meanwhile poured blame on Republicans and conservatives on the US Supreme Court for opposing gun control measures. She led an effort to tighten licensing rules for semiautomatic rifles after a racist mass shooting killed 10 Black people at a supermarket in her hometown of Buffalo last spring.

Bruce Gyory, a Democratic strategist who is not working on the race, said Hochul ran a strong campaign in her primary contest and had a lot of momentum coming into the fall, but issues like crime and inflation became a greater public focus.

“He got some momentum,” Gyory said. “In retrospect, she ran a very good first part of the campaign but events caught her a little flat-footed. I think she should have built a little more armor on the question of crime. “

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