New York Gov. Kathy Hochul won the Democratic primary for governor Tuesday, becoming the first woman to ever win a major-party gubernatorial nomination in the Empire State, the Associated Press projected.
The AP called the race for Hochul at 9:26 p.m.
Hochul, of Buffalo, easily warded off challenges from fellow Democrats Tom Suozzi – a Long Island congressman running to Hochul’s right – and New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who had the backing of much of the party’s progressive wing.
She will go on to face U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin, who was projected to be the winner of the four-way Republican primary on Tuesday night, besting Harry Wilson, Rob Astorino and Andrew Giuliani.
Hochul celebrated her win with members of the Democratic establishment at the Tribeca Rooftop event venue, where she delivered her victory speech underneath a skylight looking out into the night – a literal glass ceiling that was a nod to the historic nature of her win.
“I stand on the shoulders of generations of women, generations of women who constantly had to bang up against that glass ceiling,” she said. “To the women of New York, this one is for you.”
The governor shared the stage with Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado, who cruised to an easy victory in his own primary against progressive activist Ana Maria Archila (who ran with Williams) and former New York City Councilmember Diana Reyna (who ran with Suozzi) despite only being office for a month. The Associated Press projected Delgado the winner at 9:51 p.m.
Hochul campaigned on her 10-month record in office, which began when she took over after embattled former Gov. Andrew Cuomo resigned amid scandal in August.
She blanketed the airwaves and social media networks with seemingly ubiquitous advertisements that introduced her to voters. After the draft U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade leaked in May, Hochul aired ads touting her support of abortion rights and went on to sign additional protections for abortion providers and seekers into law.
Other ads have highlighted her support for gun-control measures, including a bill she signed into law that raised the age to purchase a semi-automatic weapon from 18 to 21. It was one of a series of gun-control bills passed in the wake of the Buffalo supermarket shooting that left 10 dead last month.
Hochul was able to fund those ads through a record-breaking campaign fundraising push that saw her amass more than $30 million, more than tripling her two Democratic opponents combined. Much of that money came from donors with business before the state, including major players in the New York City real-estate industry. As of mid-June she had $12 million on hand.
Williams and Suozzi both faulted Hochul for spearheading a deal to build a new, $1.3 billion stadium for the Buffalo Bills, which includes $850 million in direct public funding. They also latched on to Hochul’s prior support from the National Rifle Association, which gave her an “A” rating when she represented a conservative western New York district in Congress a decade ago. That support was based in part on a 2011 vote in favor of making it easier for gun owners with a concealed carry permit to cross state lines.
During a pair of Democratic debates, Hochul said she has “evolved” on the issue of gun rights and now supports strict controls. She has summoned the state Legislature back to Albany this coming Thursday to pass measures in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision making it easier to obtain a permit to carry a gun in public.
Under state election law, the winners of the governor and lieutenant governor primaries will run as a single ticket in November.
Hochul now moves on to the general election, where she will be running in a state with more than twice as many Democrats as Republicans. No Republican has won a statewide race in New York since George Pataki won a third term as governor in 2002.
She will run as a ticket with Delgado, her preferred running mate. Hochul appointed Delgado as lieutenant governor in May after her first pick for the job, now-former Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin, was arrested on bribery charges.
“I am so honored to be on this journey with all of you, my fellow New Yorkers, and of course incredibly humbled to be on this journey with a strong leader like Governor Kathy Hochul,” Delgado said in his victory speech.
In her own remarks, Hochul gave a glimpse at the messaging of her general-election campaign, branding Republicans as “extremists” and blasting the Supreme Court’s recent decisions rescinding federal abortion rights and making it easier to legally carry a gun in public.
“When one side declares war, the other side has a choice: Do you surrender, or do you fight back?” Hochul said. “I know what I’m going to do. I’m fighting back.”
This story was updated with new remarks from candidates’ victory speeches.