NY Guv Kathy Hochul sails to victory over Rep. Lee Zeldin

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

As GOP-affiliated outside groups flooded New York and other reliably blue areas with ad spend late in the campaign, Hochul’s July lead over Zeldin melted from more than 20 points to just 7 the week before Election Day, according to FiveThirtyEight’s model.

Still, she managed to prevail and convince voters to give her a full term after taking over from Andrew Cuomo after he resigned in August 2021.

With neither candidate having any real support base in New York City, late-stage elections sparked a lightning bolt around Jewish voters, particularly in Orthodox and Hasidic communities.

Zeldin, the grandson of an Orthodox rabbi, launched a charm offensive in the summer and fall with the help of a hefty dose of outside spending — more than $8 million from two Super PACs funded by Ron Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress and heir to the Estée Lauder’s fortune – and it paid off, notably by raising his profile with the Hasidic community by running ads against new government regulations on yeshivas.

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

The scramble for influential support in these communities became emblematic of how the Empire State’s normally predictable state elections were turned upside down, with former President Bill Clinton even calling on a rabbi to help North on Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney’s congressional election of New York City to help.

Unlike her predecessor, Hochul entered the race with no Cuomo-level name recognition or strong ties to black communities in the Big Apple.

Having previously faced voters only nationwide in the lieutenant governor race, Hochul has found herself on the defensive against headwinds of economic malaise and fears of crime, not only in the Five Counties but also in upstate cities like Albany, Syracuse , Rochester and Buffalo.

Hochul, along with her Lt. gov. Antonio Delgado now boast national victories on their resumes and start fresh with a four-year mandate. NY Guv Kathy Hochul sails to victory over Rep. Lee Zeldin

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