Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., has held off a four-candidate field for the GOP gubernatorial nomination to face Democrat Gov. Kathy Hochul in the November midterm election.
Decision Desk HQ called the race for Zeldin at 10:03 p.m. ET, just over an hour after polls closed.
Zeldin is a staunch ally of former President Donald Trump and was among the Republicans in Congress who voted against certifying the 2020 election results.
The Long Island congressman will try to become the first Republican elected governor in New York since Gov. George Pataki was reelected in 2002.
Hochul beat back primary challenges Tuesday from New York City's elected public advocate, Jumaane Williams, and U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi, a moderate from Long Island. She now turns her eyes to becoming the first woman to win election to the New York governor's office this fall.
In a nod to the barrier-breaking campaign, Hochul gave an election night speech Tuesday on a stage underneath a glass ceiling at an event space in Manhattan.
"I'm also here because I stand on the shoulders of generations of women, generations of women who constantly had to bang up against that glass ceiling. To the women of New York, this one's for you," Hochul said.
Hochul enters the general election campaign with a big advantage, running as the incumbent with a heavy fundraising advantage in a state that has more than twice as many registered Democrats than Republicans and has not had a GOP governor in 16 years.
Since taking office in August, Hochul has sought to step out from Gov. Andrew Cuomo's shadow, promising a clean break from his administration. She has said she was not close to the former governor, who has denied wrongdoing, and was not around to witness any alleged misbehavior.
Still, Cuomo's presence loomed over her campaign early on when he began making public appearances this past spring, criticizing Hochul and Democrats in Albany over their approach to crime and suggesting he might run for his old job. Despite suggesting he might run as an independent, the former governor ultimately did not file to run.
Zeldin is an Army Reserve lieutenant colonel who has represented eastern Long Island in Congress since 2015.
He defeated primary challenges from former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, businessman Harry Wilson, and Andrew Giuliani, the son of New York City's former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who frequently campaigned for his son.
He has focused his campaign on rising crime and criticized Hochul for not toughening the state's bail laws, and for imposing COVID-19 mitigation mandates. He also took aim at rising costs. And despite Hochul seeking to project a fresh start from Cuomo, Zeldin has referred repeatedly to the "Cuomo-Hochul administration."
He will have to persuade the state's independent voters, which outnumber Republicans, along with Democrats in order to win the general election.
Suozzi and Williams criticized Hochul for her endorsement a decade ago from the National Rifle Association and over her plan to spend more than $1.1 billion in state and county funds on building and maintaining a new stadium for her hometown Buffalo Bills.
She also faced questions about her choice for lieutenant governor, Brian Benjamin, who was arrested on federal corruption charges in April related to his campaign funds.
Benjamin pleaded not guilty and denied wrongdoing. Hochul pointed to the short time frame she had to pick a No. 2 and said she had been assured that any questions previously raised about Benjamin's campaign fundraising had been resolved.
Hochul replaced Benjamin with Antonio Delgado, who stepped down from his seat in Congress to accept the role. Delgado, also Hochul's choice for a running mate, won his primary Tuesday. Zeldin's running mate, Alison Esposito, is the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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