New York primary voters on Tuesday sent Gov. Hochul onto the general election by resounding margins and picked Rep. Lee Zeldin, a pro-Trump Long Island lawyer, as the Republican Party’s nominee in the governor’s race.
The results in the low-drama, low-turnout primary lacked major surprises, though Zeldin had an even stronger showing than might have been expected based on sparse public opinion polling.
Here are six takeaways from the first of the state’s two summer primaries.
Though she hit the campaign trail hard on the final weekend before Primary Day, the governor mostly took a low-key approach to the race, sitting out the first TV debate, focusing her advertisements on her potential GOP adversaries and campaigning sparingly.
The primary approach mirrored methods taken by past incumbent governors including Andrew Cuomo and George Pataki, but it still raised the eyebrows of critics who wondered if it would weaken her showing at ballot boxes or imperil her running mate, Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado.
The end result: Hochul beat Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who ran to her left, by about 47 percentage points, according to incomplete results, while Rep. Tom Suozzi, who ran to her right, finished about 54 points behind.
Delgado, meanwhile, decisively turned back a progressive challenge from Ana Maria Archila, an activist, topping her by about 34 percentage points in incomplete Board of Elections tallies.
While Zeldin was seen as the front-runner throughout the Republican primary, the entry of Harry Wilson, a moderate former hedge fund manager, presented a potential hurdle.
Wilson, who was the only pro-abortion rights candidate in the race, largely self-funded his multi-million dollar campaign.
But Wilson’s ambitions — and wallet — were bigger than his support, and he finished in fourth behind Zeldin, Andrew Giuliani, son of former Mayor Rudy Giuliani; and Rob Astorino, the party’s 2014 nominee for governor.
Wilson ended up about 29 percentage points behind Zeldin, according to the incomplete Elections Board count. The pair had bitter exchanges in the primary’s debates.
After Williams ran a threadbare campaign, progressives took a pounding on Primary Day.
Delgado’s dominant win also signaled limits on the power of the progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who endorsed Archila for lieutenant governor but did not publicly back Williams.
With political winds blowing in favor of more moderate candidates, progressives also struggled across numerous Assembly races, though a left-wing challenger, Sarahana Shrestha, upset Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, a Hudson Valley incumbent.
Incomplete Board of Elections records showed about 1.3 million votes counted on Wednesday. Even if the number creeps higher, it is sure to still be a measly pile of ballots for a state of more than 20 million people, with about 13 million registered voters.
The split primary, and the uncompetitive Democratic primary for governor, may have contributed to low turnout.
The son of the former New York City mayor was the far-right wildcard in the Republican race, beaming into debates remotely due to his claimed aversion to vaccination, and joining his father to haul headlines going into Primary Day.
Polls suggested Giuliani was running a close second behind Zeldin, and his name recognition seemed to be delivering a boost to his cash-scrapped campaign.
Giuliani, a 36-year-old who worked in the Trump White House, showed some skill for retail politics and performed well in New York City — perhaps buoyed by his dad and support from Curtis Sliwa, the party’s nominee in last year’s mayoral race.
But Giuliani did not carry as much support upstate or on Long Island, and he fell to Zeldin by about 21 percentage points, according to the partial results.
Primary season in New York is far from over — in some ways it has just begun. New York’s politics will next veer into primaries for the key House midterms, a chance for voters all stripes to make their voices heard at the federal level after last week’s landmark Supreme Court decision ending the constitutional right to abortion.
Primary day for New York’s House races is set for Aug. 23.