Kathy Hochul became the first woman elected governor of New York on Tuesday after beating a tougher-than-expected race and defeating Republican challenger Lee Zeldin.

The incumbent Democrats, encouraged by the high voter turnout in New York City, announced victory just after 11pm and will now serve a full four-year term.

“Tonight you made your voices heard loud and clear and made me the first woman to be elected governor of New York State,” Hochul said to the chorus of cheers at Capitale, a Greek-style venue in lower Manhattan. architecture and glass ceiling. “But I’m not here to make history, I’m here to make a difference.

“I will drive with strength and compassion, not fear and anger,” she added.

At the time, Hochul outperformed Zeldin by 55% to 43%, with just over half of all votes counted statewide, according to unofficial results from the state Electoral Council. Technical problems made it impossible to compile the results from Suffolk, the home of Zeldin. NBC and ABC announced the race before midnight.

Hochul’s victory was far from certain even in deep blue New York as she faced Zeldin, a Donald Trump-backed congressman from Long Island whose focus on crime has bolstered his efforts to become the first republican elected nationally in over two decades.

Governor Kathy Hochul and Governor Lt. Antonio Delgado celebrate at an election party on Tuesday, November 8, 2022 in Manhattan, New York.

Zeldin refused to surrender when he turned to Cipriani’s supporters in mid-Manhattan shortly after midnight.

“What is going to happen is that in the next few hours you will see the race getting closer and closer and closer,” he said before encouraging fans to take advantage of the open bar.

“We came with passion to debate the ideas,” he added. “We are still fully committed to making this happen. We hope that when these results come out, we will be able to win. “

Republican governor candidate Lee Zeldin will cast his vote on Tuesday November 8, 2022 in Mastic Beach, New York

Hochul topped New York City politics last year after allegations of s*xual harassment prompted Andrew Cuomo to resign.

A native of Buffalo and a former member of Congress for one term, Hochul served as Cuomo’s deputy commander for seven years before his stunning d*mise led to her promotion 14 months ago.

The 64-year-old declared her intention to run for a full term shortly before taking over the state from her predecessor, vowing to help people “believe in their government again.”

Hochul drove to victory in the June Democratic primary and entered the general election against Zeldin as commanding favorite with a well-stocked war campaign.

With Democrats far outnumbering Republicans, Hochul seemed to level the race, and summer polls showed a double-digit lead.

Zeldin, a Conservative Congressman from Suffolk with close ties to Trump, has grown in popularity in recent months as he tossed Hochul on crime and inflation.

The race narrowed when Zeldin limited his campaign to an almost singular focus on public safety and vowed to undo Dem-backed criminal justice reforms such as cashless bail.

He pledged to declare an emergency, release Alvin Bragg, the progressive Manhattan District Attorney, and described his candidacy as a “rescue mission.”

He tried to ally with Mayor Adams, even when the Democrat and ex-cop backed Hochul and softened his criminal rhetoric and pleaded with the disheartened Dems to endorse his offer.

Representative Lee Zeldin speaks to the media during a campaign outside Jackson Heights-Roosevelt Ave subway station.  in Queens on Tuesday 8 November 2022

One such supportive was Ruben Diaz Sr., a former City Council member, who said he had crossed party boundaries in trying to awaken other Dems to the impact of violent crime on black and brown communities.

The Bronx veteran said crime wasn’t as high as it was in the city in the 1980s and 1990s, when it peaked, but was worried it was “happening there.”

“I’m trying to send an SOS. We need help,” said Diaz, wearing his signature cowboy hat, joining Zeldin supporters at the candidate’s night watchdog party. “It’s not about a Democrat or a Republican. It’s about our children, our families, our city, our condition, our seniors, so I have to do what I have to do.

Zeldin has raced around town in recent weeks, arriving at the crime scene after the crime scene and painting Hochul as out of touch with New Yorkers’ concerns.

Adding late-race momentum, a pair of conservative Super PACs who backed his offer flooded the radio with advertisements against Hochul.

Governor Kathy Hochul and Governor Lt. Antonio Delgado celebrate at an election party on Tuesday, November 8, 2022 in Manhattan, New York.

Meanwhile, the governor spent much of his campaign urging Zeldin to his anti-ab*rtion stance, his loyalty to Trump and his vote against certification of the 2020 election results.

Hochul accused Zeldin of spreading fear and touted her collaboration with Adams to strengthen the subway’s security with more cops and cameras in the wake of a wave of high-profile violent incidents.

“It’s been hyperventilating for months trying to scare people, and New Yorkers are crazy about it,” the governor said on Monday. “All legal media organizations have called him out for what he does, spreading fear.”

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In the final weeks of the campaign, fears arose among Hochul members, the Demas, as party leaders, from President Biden to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, joined the governor at rallies across the state.

“I’m going to make it really easy for everyone,” said Hochul during Sunday’s Yonkers event with Biden. “Want a well-paid job? Then vote for the Democrat. Do you want to protect our environment for future generations? Then just vote for the Democrat. “

Hochul’s first year in office saw ups and downs as she took over the Executive Chamber amid a recurrence of COVID cases, and Brian Benjamin, her first candidate for lieutenant governor, resigned months after being charged on federal corruption charges.

Former Hudson Valley Congressman Antonio Delgado replaced Benjamin shortly before the primaries.

Hochul pushed through and passed stricter gun laws in the aftermath of a horrific race-fueled shootout in Buffalo that killed 10 black buyers who have faced legal challenges since then.

It also took steps to secure access to ab*rtion in New York in light of the Supreme Court’s annulment of the Roe v. Wade case, and conducted a militant budgetary process that increased childcare funding and changed the state’s controversial cashless bail system.

The $ 220 billion spending plan, overdue for a week, has been overshadowed by Hochul’s pressure for lawmakers to include $ 850 million in taxpayer subsidies for a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills.

The governor also faced criticism when her election box overflowed with donations with deep pockets of donors linked to companies that did business before the state.

Adams reiterated his support for Hochul on Tuesday by casting his vote for the PS81 in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.

“I look forward to continuing our partnership,” he said. “So I voted for it and I’m excited to continue with some of the things we’ve done.”

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