New York Gov. Kathy Hochul on Tuesday easily fended off a pair of Democratic primary challengers to win her party’s full-term nomination, confirming her status as the state’s top Democrat less than a year after unexpectedly becoming one of the top Democrats. most powerful in the country assumed governorships.
Ms Hochul’s runaway victory sets the stage for what could be a grueling general election challenge. Republicans think they can take advantage of New Yorkers’ discontent with the skyrocketing cost of living and increased crime to win the governor’s mansion for the first time in two decades.
Their own primary game was too close to mention Tuesday night. Four Republicans are competing for the nomination: Representative Lee Zeldin, Rob Astorino, Harry Wilson and Andrew Giuliani.
With that battle looming, Democratic primary voters on Tuesday elected Ms. Hochul, a middling incumbent who spent the final weeks of the campaign as a relentless protector of the state’s liberal values, especially after a couple of landmark Supreme Court rulings on gun and gun violence. abortion rights.
“Everything is at stake,” Ms Hochul said earlier on Tuesday as she tried to get voters on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. “This state could fall into Republican hands. Some of the top candidates for governor have already said they have an anti-choice, anti-women agenda. That’s what we’re fighting against.”
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The race was announced by The Associated Press 25 minutes after polls close in New York.
Ms. Hochul had won 66 percent of the Democratic primary vote, compared with 21 percent for New York City public advocate Jumaane D. Williams, and 12 percent for Representative Thomas R. Suozzi, counting 21 percent of the expected votes , according to The Associated Press.
The Democratic fight for lieutenant governor was still too close to mention, but Ms. Hochul’s lieutenant governor and running mate Antonio Delgado had taken a significant lead early on over Ana María Archila, a progressive activist who sidelined from mr. Williams stood. mr. Suozzi’s running mate, Diana Reyna, came in third.
Ms. Hochul, 63, came to power only last August, when Andrew M. Cuomo resigned as governor over sexual harassment allegations. Born in Buffalo to a party dominated by New York City Democrats, she had toiled in relative obscurity for much of her career, briefly as a congressman from western New York and nearly six years as the little-known lieutenant governor. from Mr Cuomo.
She moved quickly after taking office to mount a political campaign, and early this year there seemed little doubt that she was the frontrunner in a three-party Democratic primary. She won the endorsement of nearly every major Democrat, spent far more than her opponents, and relied heavily on the powers of the governorship to try to convince herself with key voting blocs across the state.
Ms. Hochul has also proven to be a tireless and effective fundraiser: The governor, who had already raised about $34 million in political donations by the end of last week, has set a goal of raising a total of $50 million to $70 million on Election Day, according to three Democrats familiar with her plans.
Tuesday’s vote justified Ms Hochul and her centre-left approach to governance.
The governor was determined to convince Democratic voters that she was a constant presence for a government ravaged by scandal. She portrayed herself as a protector of liberal values at a time when federal abortion rights are under threat and gun violence has shocked New York and the country. And she did her best to balance the concerns of black and progressive lawmakers and New Yorkers afraid of crime when she pushed for a series of modest changes to the state’s bail laws this spring.
Still, she had to endure aggressive critiques from Mr. Suozzi to her right and Mr. Williams to her left, who claimed she was doing too little to tackle rising housing prices or rising crime and portrayed the governor as another creature of Albany’s corrupt establishment. .
Both candidates relentlessly attacked her decision to spend hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars on a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills. The governor also noted that she was defending Brian A. Benjamin’s nomination as her first lieutenant governor after he was charged with federal bribery this spring. Mr. Benjamin later resigned.
Those problems are likely to crop up even more intensely in the general election.
Yet there were also warning signs in Tuesday’s vote for Ms Hochul. As she raced to victory statewide, Democrat turnout plummeted, especially in the black and Latino-heavy New York City areas where Ms. Hochul may need to spark enthusiasm to win this fall.