Gov. Hochul wins Democratic nomination for NY governor; Republicans pick Zeldin

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Wednesday, June 29, 2022
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Candace McCowan reports on the results of New York's gubernatorial primary.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Gov. Kathy Hochul and Lee Zeldin will face-off in a race for New York governor in November after ABC News projected the candidates to win the nomination for their respective parties.

Nine months after she stepped into the job of New York governor as a relative unknown, Hochul easily locked up her party's nomination Tuesday, becoming the first woman to ever win a major party nomination in the state.

Hochul was serving as an under-the-radar lieutenant governor under the shadow of former Gov. Andrew Cuomo until last year, when he resigned amid sexual harassment allegations, catapulting her into office.

Keep track of live New York primary election results here

Hochul beat back primary challenges Tuesday from New York City's elected public advocate, Jumaane Williams, and U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi, a moderate from Long Island.

She now turns her eyes to becoming the first woman to win election to the New York governor's office this fall.

In a nod to the barrier-breaking campaign, Hochul gave an election night speech Tuesday on a stage underneath a glass ceiling at an event space in Manhattan.

WATCH: Gov. Kathy Hochul delivers primary victory speech

Hochul enters the general election campaign with a big advantage, running as the incumbent with a heavy fundraising advantage in a state that has more than twice as many registered Democrats than Republicans and has not had a GOP governor in 16 years.

She faces U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin, who won the Republican Party's nomination Tuesday.

Zeldin is a staunch ally of former President Donald Trump and was among the Republicans in Congress who voted against certifying the 2020 election results.

The Long Island congressman will try to become the first Republican elected governor in New York since Gov. George Pataki was reelected in 2002.

Hochul's prospects are expected to be even stronger this fall after the U.S. Supreme Court last week overturned the Roe v. Wade decision establishing abortion rights.

She has made bolstering abortion rights a key plank of her campaign, while three of the four candidates on the Republican side are anti-abortion.

Zeldin is an Army Reserve lieutenant colonel who has represented eastern Long Island in Congress since 2015.

He defeated primary challenges from former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, businessman Harry Wilson and Andrew Giuliani, the son of New York City's former mayor Rudy Giuliani, who frequently campaigned for his son.

WATCH: Rep. Lee Zeldin declares victory in NY 's gubernatorial primary

He has focused his campaign on rising crime and criticized Hochul for not toughening the state's bail laws, for imposing COVID-19 mitigation mandates and for rising costs. And despite Hochul seeking to project a fresh start from Cuomo, Zeldin has referred repeatedly to the "Cuomo-Hochul Administration."

He will have to persuade the state's independent voters, which outnumber Republicans, along with Democrats in order to win the general election.

Democrats are expected to focus on Zeldin's vocal defense of Trump during both of his impeachments and objection to the election results.

Hochul is also likely to focus on Zeldin's statements praising the U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade and his comment that, as governor, he would appoint an anti-abortion state health commissioner.

Hochul focused her campaign on steps she took to bolster abortion rights and moves to toughen the state's gun laws after a racist mass shooting in Buffalo.

Suozzi and Williams criticized her for her endorsement a decade ago from the National Rifle Association and over her plan to spend more than $1.1 billion in state and county funds on building and maintaining a new stadium for her hometown Buffalo Bills.

She also faced questions about her choice for lieutenant governor, Brian Benjamin, who was arrested on federal corruption charges in April related to his campaign funds.

Benjamin pleaded not guilty and denied wrongdoing. Hochul pointed to the short time frame she had to pick a No. 2 and said she had been assured that any questions previously raised about Benjamin's campaign fundraising had been resolved.

Hochul replaced Benjamin with Antonio Delgado, who stepped down from his seat in Congress to accept the role. Delgado, also Hochul's choice for a running mate, won his primary Tuesday. Zeldin's running mate Alison Esposito is the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor.

Tuesday's election in New York covered statewide offices and state Assembly races, but primary elections for U.S. House seats and the state Senate will be held Aug. 23. Those elections were delayed because of a redistricting lawsuit that led a court to throw out new political maps.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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