Gubernatorial candidate Rep. Lee Zeldin speaks onstage at Cipriani on...

Gubernatorial candidate Rep. Lee Zeldin speaks onstage at Cipriani on Election Day in New York City on Tuesday. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

ALBANY — Republican Lee Zeldin conceded the New York governor’s race Wednesday afternoon to Democrat Gov. Kathy Hochul.

Zeldin, a congressman from Shirley, initially declined to concede after the major news networks and Associated Press declared Hochul the winner a few hours after polls closed on Election Day.

But he issued a statement shortly before 2 p.m. Wednesday, congratulating Hochul. The latest tally shows the Buffalo Democrat leading by 323,000 votes (52.8% to 47.2%) with 94% of districts reporting across New York.

It stands as the closest race for governor in New York since 1994.

Though acknowledging the outcome, the Republican said his campaign raised issues on crime, the economy and education that the governor and Democratic-led Legislature should address.

“I would like to congratulate New York Governor Kathy Hochul on her election to a full-four year term,” said Zeldin, 42. “This race was a once-in-a-generation campaign, with a very close margin in the bluest of blue states. The unrelenting passion and hard work of our grassroots volunteers and supporters made this incredibly close race possible and helped us win at least 49 of New York’s 62 counties … Those controlling Albany should take note.”

Hochul, 64, has been governor since August 2021, moving up from lieutenant governor after Andrew M. Cuomo resigned while facing a likely impeachment trial. She became the first woman to occupy the office and on Tuesday, further made history by becoming the first woman elected to the office.

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