New York Governor Kathy Hochul, who replaced Cuomo, faces Democrats
NEW YORK — New Yorkers vote Tuesday in the race for a governor who, for the first time in a decade, does not include the name “Cuomo” at the top of the ticket.
Instead, the most high-profile name among Democrats is Kathy Hochul, who was thrust into the governor’s office last year when former Governor Andrew Cuomo resigned amid sexual harassment allegations.
Hochul hopes to become the first woman to win the New York gubernatorial election this fall, but first she must overcome challenges on Tuesday from New York City’s elected public attorney Jumaane Williams and Rep. American Tom Suozzi, a moderate from Long Island.
If she wins, Hochul will enter the general election campaign with a big advantage, casting herself as the incumbent with a big fundraising advantage in a state that has more than twice as many registered Democrats as Republicans and which hasn’t had a GOP governor in 16 years.
Hochul’s outlook should be even stronger after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade establishing the right to abortion. She has made strengthening abortion rights a key part of her campaign, while three of the four candidates on the Republican side are anti-abortion.
GOP candidates include U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin and Andrew Giuliani, the former New York mayor’s son.
Tuesday’s election in New York will cover state office and state assembly races, but primary elections for U.S. House and state Senate seats will take place August 23. These elections were delayed due to a redistricting lawsuit that led to a court rejecting new political plans.
Since taking office in August, Hochul has sought to step out of Cuomo’s shadow, promising a clean break from his administration. She said she was not close to the former governor, who denied any wrongdoing, and was not there to witness any alleged misconduct.
Still, Cuomo’s presence weighed on his campaign early on when he began making public appearances last spring, criticizing Hochul and the Albany Democrats for their approach to crime and suggesting he might run for his old job. Although he suggested he might run as an independent, the former governor ultimately did not file a candidacy.
Suozzi, a centrist who hasn’t been shy about embracing Cuomo, was the only Democrat on the debate stage to say he would accept the former governor’s endorsement and said he was still “very popular” despite his “baggage”. He also echoed Cuomo’s comments calling on Hochul to toughen state bail laws.
Hochul focused her campaign on the steps she took to strengthen abortion rights and to strengthen state gun laws after a racist shooting in Buffalo.
Suozzi and Williams criticized her for her endorsement a decade ago of the National Rifle Association and her plan to spend more than $1.1 billion in state and county funds to build and maintain a new stadium for his hometown Buffalo Bills.
She also faced questions about her choice of lieutenant governor, Brian Benjamin, who was arrested in April on federal corruption charges related to his campaign funds.
Benjamin pleaded not guilty and denied any wrongdoing. Hochul pointed to the short time she had to choose a No. 2 and said she had been assured that any issues previously raised about Benjamin’s campaign fundraising had been resolved.
Suozzi opted to run against Hochul instead of running what was expected to be a tough re-election race for his House seat this year. He previously made an unsuccessful run for governor in 2006, but lost the Democratic nomination to Eliot Spitzer.
Williams, the most staunchly progressive in the race, is often seen sporting a “Stay Woke” button on his lapel. He has been arrested multiple times for civil disobedience during protests against immigration enforcement and police misconduct.
He serves as a public ombudsman in his role as an advocate for the public and in 2018 issued a surprisingly strong challenge against Hochul in the race for lieutenant governor, which he lost by 7 percentage points.
If elected, he would be the second black man to serve as governor after Governor David Paterson took office in 2007.
The Republican contest favorite is Zeldin, which has the endorsement of both the Republican Party and the state’s Conservative Party.
Zeldin, an Army Reserve lieutenant colonel who has represented Eastern Long Island in Congress since 2015, is a staunch ally of former President Donald Trump and was among the Republicans who voted against certification of the results. 2020 elections.
His most prominent challenger is Andrew Giuliani, the 36-year-old son of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who has often campaigned for his son.
Although Rudy Giuliani was previously hailed as a national hero for leading the city through 9/11, he has become a deeply controversial figure in New York for his work to overturn the 2020 election results.
Young Giuliani often repeated his father’s baseless claims that Trump had won the 2020 election. Giuliani never ran for public office, but worked as Trump’s White House aide and later as a commentator on the conservative Newsmax network.
He first came to public attention as a child when he stood next to his father at the elder Giuliani’s mayoral inauguration in 1994, mimicking his gestures and repeating some of his words. His antics at the age of 7 were parodied by Chris Farley in “Saturday Night Live”.
Other Republican candidates include former Westchester County executive Rob Astorino, a former radio host and Conservative radio executive, and businessman Harry Wilson, who served as an adviser to the US Treasury Department under the former President Barack Obama. Wilson is the most moderate in the GOP field and was the only candidate of the four Republicans who said he supports abortion rights.