Dems Sweep Statewide Races; Hochul Wins Full Term

On November 8, 2022, Democratic candidates prevailed in New York’s elections to the positions of governor and lieutenant governor, attorney general, comptroller, and U.S. senator.

Gov. Kathy Hochul and Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado defeated the Republican ticket of Rep. Lee Zeldin and Alison Esposito, 53%-47%. Gov. Hochul is the first woman to be elected governor in the history of the state. Attorney General Letitia James was elected to a second term, beating Republican Michael Henry, 53%-45%. Comptroller Tom DiNapoli was elected to a fifth term, prevailing over Republican Paul Rodriguez by a 55%-42% margin. Finally, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer defeated Republican Joe Pinion, 55%-43%, to win election to his fifth Senate term.

The 2022 election for governor of New York was highly unusual. No Republican candidate has been elected to statewide office in New York since 2002. Over the past four election cycles, Democratic gubernatorial candidates prevailed by comfortable margins.[1] Initially, this year’s election was expected to fit the same mold. Gov. Hochul amassed a large campaign war chest, and Rep. Zeldin—a pro-life, pro-gun congressman known as a strong supporter of former President Donald Trump—was believed by some to be too conservative to seriously threaten a well-funded incumbent Democrat in a blue state like New York. Furthermore, a midsummer snafu regarding petition signatures harmed Rep. Zeldin’s cause by preventing him from appearing on the Independence Party’s ballot line.

Nevertheless, Gov. Hochul’s advantage in the polls dramatically shrank as Election Day approached. Rep. Zeldin’s tough-on-crime message was resonating with many New York voters. On October 22, Politico published an article entitled “New York governor’s race takes sudden turn after Zeldin surge.” The article reported that polls “showed the race tightening — maybe to low single digits, uncomfortably close for Democrats after two decades of statewide dominance in New York.” The race began to receive national attention due to Rep. Zeldin’s unexpected competitiveness. Politico added that voters’ concerns about crime and the economy had led Gov. Hochul to shift the focus of her campaign. In the days leading up to the election, the New York Post noted that former President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vice President Kamala Harris, and President Joe Biden all “have tried to come to Hochul’s rescue” by appearing at campaign events “as Zeldin catches up to her in polls.”

While Gov. Hochul hung on for a narrow victory over Rep. Zeldin, this year’s election was the closest gubernatorial election in New York since 1994. Following her victory, the Governor commented, “‘Given a choice, New Yorkers refused to go backwards on our long march toward progress. The glass ceiling…has finally been shattered in the state of New York and you made it happen.’” In a statement, Rep. Zeldin said, “‘New Yorkers of all walks of life are sick of the attacks on their wallets, their safety, their freedoms, and the quality of their kids’ education and are hitting their breaking point, as proven by these results. While this campaign has come to a close, the rescue mission to “Save Our State” continues.’”

[1] Before this year, it had been 20 years since any Republican candidate for governor had earned more than 40% of the vote. The Democratic gubernatorial candidate prevailed by a staggering 38% in 2006, by 29% in 2010, by 14% in 2014, and by 24% in 2018.