Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks at an election night watch party for New...

Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks at an election night watch party for New York Democrats, Tuesday, in Manhattan. Credit: Craig Ruttle

ALBANY — Gov. Kathy Hochul roared to victory Tuesday in the Democratic primary for governor, using her name recognition and huge fundraising edge to defeat two challengers.

The Associated Press declared Hochul, 63, the winner at 9:28 p.m.

With 47% of election districts reporting, Hochul had a huge lead over her opposition. She had 67% of the vote compared with 21% for New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and 12% for Long Island Rep. Tom Suozzi.

In the other major Democratic race, Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado – Hochul’s running mate – also enjoyed a huge lead over Ana Maria Archila (Williams’ running mate) and Diana Reyna (Suozzi’s running mate). The New York Times declared Delgado the winner.

Last summer, Hochul became the state’s first woman governor. She acknowledged that historic status in her victory speech to supporters.

"I stand on the shoulders of generations of women who constantly had to bang up against that glass ceiling. To the women of New York: This one is for you!" Hochul said at her campaign gathering in Manhattan.

Looking forward to facing a Republican in the fall, Hochul struck national themes on mass shootings, gun safety and abortion – issues that play well for Democrats in this heavily blue state.

“Abortion rights aren’t going anywhere as long as I am your governor!” Hochul said, referring to the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision upending federal abortion rights.

She said the state cannot allow “right-wing extremists” to take New York backward.

Hochul tipped her hat figuratively to Williams’ progressive campaign in her speech but omitted Suozzi.

Williams, in a Twitter post, thanked his supporters and Archila, his running mate.

“We left it all on the table,” Williams wrote. “Thanks so much for the energy you brought for New York!!! I'm proud of us!”

Suozzi (D-Glen Cove), in statement on Twitter, said he called Hochul at 9:45 p.m. to concede and congratulate her on “her hard work and disciplined campaign.”

“We lost the campaign, but we brought an important message about crime, affordability, our troubled schools and corruption in New York,” Suozzi wrote.

Hochul was facing her first electoral test since becoming governor in August when Andrew M. Cuomo resigned amid accusations of sexual harassment. And she passed easily.

In doing so, she deflected challenges from the left and center in the primary.

Suozzi, 59, turned down a chance to run for a fourth term in office to instead challenge a sitting governor — who is also the first woman to hold the office in New York State. He angled for centrist Democrats, making crime and taxes his top campaign priorities.

Williams, 46, had the backing of many members of the progressive wing of the party. He had called for tax increases on the wealthy and greater spending on social services.

Attacked from either side, Hochul fell in the middle and was able to attract a broad swath of voters from around the state.

Hochul had served as Cuomo’s lieutenant governor for eight years. But she was never close with the governor and wasn’t considered part of his core team. In fact, Cuomo had signaled he’d dump her from the ticket for the 2022 campaign.

But Cuomo’s plans to run for a fourth term ran aground when faced with accusations of sexual harassment, criticism about his nursing home policies during the pandemic and allegations of using state personnel and material to help him pen a lucrative memoir.

Facing an impeachment investigation, he resigned in August, making Hochul New York’s first woman governor.

On her first day, she said she’d run for a full term in 2022. Challengers immediately lined up, with incumbent Attorney General Letitia James seen as the most formidable.

But Hochul launched an aggressive fundraising effort that, among other things, shut out James from big donors and resulted in her quitting the race and instead running again for attorney general.

All along, Hochul was seen as the far-ahead front-runner in this race — with some calling her the prohibitive favorite.

She at times had a 30-point lead in the polls, had stocked up more than $30 million in campaign funds and essentially had the backing of every major figure in the party.

But Hochul also ran a low-energy campaign that triggered second-guessing among supporters.

She waited until late to go up with television ads and she held few rallies. Many insiders and analysts suspected Hochul, because of her huge lead in the polls, was waiting to spend all her money and energy in the fall against a Republican in the general election.

Suozzi had campaigned for Cuomo voters — he was the lone candidate who said he’d accept the former governor’s endorsement, though that never came. He called himself a “common-sense Democrat” who would be tougher on crime and taxes and who had more executive experience than Hochul, whom he repeatedly called an “interim governor.”

Suozzi also said voters should question her judgment on several high-profile issues — from the selection of her first lieutenant governor, Brian Benjamin, who resigned after being indicted on federal bribery charges, to a deal to provide $850 million in state subsidies to build a new NFL stadium in Buffalo.

He went up first with television ads in a bid to soften Hochul’s lead. He spent about $7 million on TV, radio and digital commercials — but that was about half what Hochul was able to spend on ads late in the primary campaign, blanketing most of the major markets.

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