A look back at Hochul’s 2022 win, securing her a full term

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks to supporters during her election night party, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

The race for governor dominated the political season in New York this year with Democrat Kathy Hochul making history by being elected the first woman governor of New York. She defeated her Republican rival, Long Island Rep. Lee Zeldin, in the closest race for governor in a generation.

But the history-making road had many bumps along the way.

What You Need To Know

  • After losing her first lieutenant governor due to a corruption scandal, Gov. Kathy Hochu bounced back strong
  • She defeated two opponents in the June Democratic primary
  • The governor then went on to win the general election, making history as the state’s first elected woman governor

Before the campaign got into full swing, Hochul’s handpicked Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin was arrested in April on federal corruption charges.

“Today we announce that Brian Benjamin, the Lieutenant Governor for the State of New York has been indicted for bribery and related offenses,” said U.S. Attorney for the Southern District Damian Williams last April.

Benjamin was quickly dropped from the ticket, and replaced with Hudson Valley Rep. Antonio Delgado. Some of the charges against Benjamin were dropped by a federal judge after the election.

In the June Democratic primary, Hochul was challenged by two opponents, New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and Long Island Rep. Tom Suozzi.

“The big difference between Kathy Hochul and I is that she is part of the establishment machine,” Suozzi said before the election. “She’s got the four B’s. She’s got Brian Benjamin, she won’t fix bail reform, she got the Buffalo Bills deal. And she has been really irresponsible with the budget.

Hochul initially shunned traditional campaign events, but did hit the streets of Upper Manhattan in late June to meet and greet voters.

“I love to talk to people on the streets. I do it all the time. It comes just naturally,” Hochul said on Wahsington Heights just one day before the primary in late June. “But here, right before the election. Just a lot of energy out there. So, home stretch.”

Hochul went on to defeat her primary opponents handily.

“There is only one party that can take us forward. And who is that? That is the Democratic Party!” Hochul told supporters from the stage.

But Hochul faced a very different opponent in the general election. After winning his own primary, Zeldin focused his message almost exclusively on public safety by visiting crime scenes and lambasting Democrats for policies such as bail reform.

“Day after day, we are hearing of these stories where people are being hurt,” Zeldin said at one of his many press conferences highlighting crime. “In some cases, they are pushed onto the tracks. In others, they actually end up losing their life.”

Hochul didn’t take the bait at first. Instead, she focused her message throughout the summer on competent leadership and protecting abortion rights in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.

“Well, this is the next stop on the journey to let the nation know that this is the state of New York and we will protect a woman’s right to a safe and legal abortion. It’s happening here in our state,” Hochul said this past summer.

She also successfully linked Zeldin to unpopular former President Donald Trump during the October NY1 debate, the only one in the contest.

“Is Donald Trump a great President?” Hochul asked. “I worked closely with him -“ Zeldin responded before being cut off by Hochul am who shot back, “Yes or no. Yes or no.”

And on Nov. 8, the voters spoke and elected Hochul to a full four years.

“I’m not here to make history,” Hochul said that night. “I’m here to make a difference.”