NEW YORK (PIX11) — The top Election Day race in New York is for executive control of the state.
Incumbent Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul has been fighting to hold onto her seat and become the first woman elected as governor in the Empire State. On the other side of the political aisle, Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin has been pushing to become the first statewide Republican elected official since former Gov. George Pataki.
He faces an uphill battle. There are twice as many registered Democrats in New York as Republicans. Still, Zeldin drew in 44% of the vote in a PIX11 poll released a week before Election Day.
The member of Congress, a Long Island man, has hammered home a focus on crime. If elected, Zeldin has vowed to roll back liberal criminal justice reforms.
He said he would declare a crime emergency in New York on his first day in office. He also wants cashless bail to be repealed. Zeldin supports the repeal of the Less is More parole reform bill signed into law by Hochul along with the repeal of qualified immunity. He also wants to repeal the HALT Act, signed into law by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, which reformed segregated confinement practices in New York State correctional facilities.
Crime has also been a major issue in Hochul’s campaign. During her time in office, bail reform laws were tweaked amid criticism.
Restrictions around guns were signed into law after a deadly Buffalo supermarket shooting and the Supreme Court overturned historical rules around firearms in New York. Hochul also worked with Mayor Eric Adams to increase cops and cameras in New York City’s subway system in the wake of the Brooklyn subway attack that left 10 people shot as well as a wave of other crimes.
Hochul took on leadership of the state after Cuomo’s resignation. She was Cuomo’s lieutenant governor for six years.
NY congressional races
Outside of the race for governor, candidates across New York are facing off to represent the state in Congress. Republicans control eight out of New York’s 27 previous congressional districts going into the 2022 election, with New York set to lose one of those seats as a result of 2020 Census data.
Democrats failed to pass new federal and legislative political maps that would have cemented solid liberal majorities statewide. An upstate judge ended up ordering new sets of congressional maps drawn by an independent court master, whose maps gave Democrats a smaller edge.
Those new maps pitted several members of Congress against each other. In New York’s 12th Congressional District, Rep. Jerry Nadler, one of New York City’s most veteran members in Congress, defeated Rep. Carolyn Maloney, another of the city’s longest-running representatives.
During his campaign, Nadler stressed the importance of his re-election. He said seniority in Congress brings the clout needed to get bills passed.
Nadler’s facing challenges from Republican Michael Zumbluskas and unaffiliated candidate Mike Itki in the general election.
Zumbluskas is a U.S. Army veteran currently working as a resource management analyst for the city Department of Transportation, according to his campaign website. He is also the GOP district leader in New York’s 76th State Assembly District, covering part of Manhattan’s East Side.
Itkis, a native of the former Soviet Union who moved to New York City in 1979, is a major in the U.S. Army Reserve. He has also worked in information technology and financial services, according to his campaign website.
Before winning the primary in the newly-mapped 12th district, Nadler represented the nearby 10th Congressional District. A crowded field of Democrats ran to represent the 10th district in the primary, which was won by former federal prosecutor Daniel Goldman.
He’ll face off against Republican challenger Benine Hamdan in the race to represent the district, which encompasses Lower Manhattan and northwest Brooklyn. Hamdan advanced from the Republican primary as an unopposed candidate. She’s the daughter of Lebanese immigrants and has lived in Brooklyn her entire life, according to her campaign site.
Hamdan worked as a risk analyst and now works as a partner at an investment firm. She’s also worked as an advocate for mental health intervention, care and treatment.
Roughly one-third of New York’s House races are viewed as competitive, with Republicans in play in races on Long Island and in the Hudson Valley. In one of the most closely watched races, U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, the five-term Democrat who was supposed to be leading his party’s attempt to hold onto Congress, is fighting for survival in a district in the Hudson River Valley.
One closely watched race in upstate New York is in the Syracuse area, where Republican Rep. John Katko is leaving after four terms. That race pits Republican and U.S. Navy veteran Brandon Williams against Democrat Francis Conole, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate and current U.S. Naval Reserve captain.