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Incumbents run away with New York midterm primary

Democratic New Yorkers voted to keep the incumbent in office, while Republicans declined to back a heavily Trump-aligned challenger.

BROOKLYN (CN) — New York Governor Kathy Hochul won the Democratic primary vote by more than 40 points, with pollsters calling the election in her favor just half an hour after polls closed. 

The incumbent took office in August 2021 after former Governor Andrew Cuomo left office amid a sexual misconduct scandal, making the Tuesday election Hochul’s first bid to get on the Democratic ticket. She is the first woman to win an election for the state’s top seat.

With 66% of the vote, Hochul handily beat her closest challenger, progressive New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who held onto 19% based on the 826,000 votes tallied around midnight. Roughly 12% of votes went to moderate Long Island Congressman Tom Suozzi.

Hochul accepted her win around 10:10 p.m. She wore an all-white suit, symbolic attire with roots in the women’s suffrage movement. 

“I stand on the shoulders of generations of women who constantly had to bang up against that glass ceiling,” Hochul said. “To the women of New York, this one’s for you.” 

The governor promised to keep New York a “safe harbor for America’s women” who need access to abortions, and to ramp up gun legislation, in response to last week’s Supreme Court decisions overturning Roe v. Wade and striking down a major New York restriction on concealed carry.

Hochul raised more than $34 million in her campaign, mostly in massive installments from big donors, far outpacing her rivals. 

While Democrats are unlikely to lose the general election in the deeply blue state, the Republican ticket settled in a closer race.

After holding a narrow lead in early results, things took a turn for the heavily Trump-aligned Andrew Giuliani, a former White House aide and the son of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. The younger Giuliani lost to U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin, who won 41% of votes to Giuliani's nearly 25%. Around 401,000 had been tallied by midnight.

Giuliani’s best performance was in New York City, where his last name carries decades of recognition, but Zeldin pulled out ahead in most of the state, with heavy support in suburban upstate New York and Long Island.

Political science experts say the Republican race may be an indicator of how much favor among the party is earned by close ties to former President Donald Trump. 

As the first batch of results rolled in, Rudy Giuliani was tweeting about the Jan. 6 insurrection investigation committee, denying a top aide’s testimony that the former mayor, and Trump’s personal attorney, had sought a presidential pardon related to the Capitol attacks.

Zeldin, too, is a Trump supporter and still contests the results of the 2020 election. The GOP nominee joined a Long Island watch party just before 11 p.m. He walked out to DJ Khaled’s “All I Do is Win,” slowly approaching the stage and hugging his team through the track’s Rick Ross verse.

“This isn’t just a red wave. This is a common sense wave," Zeldin told the cheering crowd. “This is a rescue mission to save our state and losing is not an option.” 

Zeldin promised supporters he would end Democrats’ “one-party rule," which he said is driving New Yorkers to leave the state. He also pledged to fire Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and to get rid of all Covid mandates, and accused Hochul of pandering to the far left. 

Giuliani and Zeldin each thanked each other in speeches Tuesday night. 

First on Giuliani’s list, though, was former mayoral candidate and Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa.

“Curtis has probably called me more than my wife has in the past 6 months,” Giuliani said. “I thank you for your blood, your sweat and tears.”

After a few more thank-yous, Giuliani turned to his father, standing in the front of the crowd.

“I want to thank someone I love with all my heart: America’s mayor, Rudy Giuliani,” the younger Giuliani said.

In the second race on the ticket, Democratic incumbent Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado won with 57% of the vote to progressive challenger Ana Maria Archila’s 24%. The slightly smaller gap between the two indicates some voters choosing to split the vote rather than pick the two incumbents together. 

One of those voters was David Ghitelman, who voted for Hochul and Archila. 

“I don’t know much about Delgado except that he’s part of the status quo,” Ghitelman told Courthouse News at the polls. 

Like Hochul, Delgado is running for reelection for the first time. He was appointed to the seat after Hochul’s former second-in-command was arrested on federal bribery charges and resigned. 

New York’s muddled election process may further cut into the typically skimpy turnout for the midterm primary election. Because the state’s redistricting shook up Congressional districts, voters will choose their party representatives for those seats in a separate vote on August 23. 

Ghitelman said holding a separate election is a mistake. 

Meanwhile, voter Darnell Roane hadn’t heard that a second election was on the calendar, even though he regularly votes in midterm elections — “whenever I can,” he explained — and reminds friends to do so. 

Meanwhile, voter Darnell Roane hadn’t heard that a second election was on the calendar, even though he regularly votes in midterm elections. 

Roane picked the two winners for the ballot’s top two spots. He said he’s pleased with the governor’s job in office, and liked that Hochul picked Delgado for the job and as her unofficial running mate. 

“He sounds authentic. He doesn’t sound like a politician,” Roane told Courthouse News.

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