NY Gov. Hochul Defies Polls and Easily Beats GOP’s Zeldin

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul became the first woman to win the Empire State’s top job statewide on Tuesday night, according to three major networks, defeating Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin of Long Island in a race that appeared far too close for Democrats’ liking in the closing weeks.As the GOP-aligned outside groups flooded New York

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New York Gov. Kathy Hochul became the first woman to win the Empire State’s top job statewide on Tuesday night, according to three major networks, defeating Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin of Long Island in a race that appeared far too close for Democrats’ liking in the closing weeks.

As the GOP-aligned outside groups flooded New York and other reliably blue territories with ad spending late in the campaign, Hochul’s July lead over Zeldin of more than 2src points evaporated to just seven in the week before Election Day, according to FiveThirtyEight’s model.

Nevertheless, Hochul managed to prevail and convince voters to give her a full term after taking over for Andrew Cuomo in the wake of his August 2src21 resignation.

In a speech to supporters, Zeldin did not concede and suggested that late-counted votes would show the race was much closer than the early results showed.

“We have been crushing the Election Day vote all across the entire state. So what’s going to happen is that over the course of these next couple of hours, you’re going to see the race continue to get closer and closer and closer and closer,” he said.

Neither Hochul nor Zeldin boasted a true base of support in New York City, and a late stage blitz for pockets of Jewish voters ensued, particularly in Orthodox and Hasidic communities.

Zeldin, the grandson of an Orthodox rabbi, put on a charm offensive over the summer and through the fall with the help of a hefty dose of outside spending—more than $8 million from a pair of Super PACs funded by Ron Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress and heir to the Estée Lauder fortune. It paid off, particularly in boosting his profile with the Hasidic community by running ads in opposition to new state regulations on yeshivas.

While Orthodox and Hasidic voters tend to back Republicans in national elections, decades of engaged lobbying efforts in Albany have led to the otherwise conservative voting bloc backing Democrats at the state level.

The scramble for influential endorsements in those communities became emblematic of how the normally predictable statewide election in the Empire State became upended, with former President Bill Clinton even calling a rabbi to help in Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney’s congressional race north of New York City.

Unlike her predecessor, Hochul entered the race without Cuomo-level name recognition nor strong ties to Black communities in the Big Apple.

Only having faced voters statewide in the lieutenant governor’s race before, Hochul found herself on the defensive with the headwinds of economic malaise and anxiety over crime not just in the five boroughs, but also in upstate cities such as Albany, Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo.

Hochul, along with her Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado, can now boast statewide victories on their resumes and start afresh with a four year mandate.

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