Governor Kathy Hochul is trying to make history as the first female governor elected in the state with just 10 months in office under her belt. She is facing Representative Tom Suozzi and New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.
Hochul has positioned herself as the frontrunner in the three-way primary field, in part through a relentless campaign fundraising strategy that saw her amass more than $30 million — far outpacing any of her opponents.
The governor’s campaign has blanketed the state’s airwaves touting her record during her short time in office, which includes a gas-tax reduction through the end of the year and a series of gun-control and abortion-access measures she signed into law just this month.
But Hochul’s tenure has not been without controversy. She selected then-state Sen. Brian Benjamin, a Manhattan Democrat, to replace her as lieutenant governor despite questions over his past campaign-fundraising tactics. Within six months, Benjamin was arrested on federal bribery charges and resigned.
Hochul’s opponents have faulted her for spearheading a deal to build a new $1.4 billion football stadium for the Buffalo Bills, which came with $850 million in direct public subsidies. And they’ve latched on to her past positions on gun issues, which earned her an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association when she represented a conservative-leaning district in Congress a decade ago.
Hochul has said her views have changed on the issue of gun control, and she successfully led the effort to boost the minimum age for purchasing a semi-automatic rifle from 18 to 21 in New York after an 18-year-old killed 10 people in a Buffalo supermarket last month.
Suozzi’s positions align with Hochul’s more often than not, so he is campaigning on his track record as a “proven executive,” having once served as a town mayor and county executive during his 30 years in politics. He has framed Hochul, who also held local office and, briefly, a seat in Congress, as unprepared or unwilling to take the necessary steps to improve the state in essential ways.
Williams, the No. 2 official in New York City, is the candidate favored by progressives, including the Working Families Party, the influential third party with a habit of backing insurgent, left-leaning candidates. This is his second race against Hochul; he came within seven percentage points of defeating her in the 2018 lieutenant governor primary.
He has criticized the governor for not doing more to focus on street-level crime in Harlem, the Bronx and other areas susceptible to gun violence.
All the public polling has shown Hochul with a comfortable lead over her two rivals, but the lieutenant governor’s race is much harder to gauge.
The winner of the Democratic primary will face the candidate that emerges from a contentious, four-way Republican primary Tuesday between Representative Lee Zeldin, former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, businessman Harry Wilson, and Andrew Giuliani, a former Trump administration aide who is son of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Zeldin, of Long Island, has the backing of Republican Party leaders across the state, who voted earlier this year to make him their designated candidate — a distinction that gave him an automatic spot on the primary ballot without petitioning.
Giuliani is making his first run for elected office and has made his unabashed support of Donald Trump a central part of his campaign. During a debate earlier this month, Giuliani repeated the discredited, incorrect claim that Trump rightfully won the 2020 election, going as far as claiming a “crime” had been perpetrated on the American people.
But Trump has not formally endorsed any candidate in the Republican race. Along with Giuliani, Trump counts Astorino and Zeldin — both of whom have been staunch defenders of Trump on cable news programs — as allies.
New York has more than twice as many Democrats as Republicans, with independent voters also outpacing the GOP. The state hasn’t elected a Republican to statewide office since George Pataki won his third term as governor in 2002.
It is a closed-primary state, meaning only enrolled members of a party can vote in their respective primary.