The results are in: Gov. Kathy Hochul won the Democratic primary for governor and Rep. Lee Zeldin won the Republican primary. Newsday TV’s Cecilia Dowd reports. Credit: Newsday/Reece T. Williams, Steve Pfost; James Carbone; Courtesy WCBS; Photo Credit: Craig Ruttle/ Pool via AP; AP/ Bebeto Matthews; Corey Sipkin

ALBANY — Long Island congressman Lee Zeldin, a staunch supporter of former President Donald Trump, won a four-way Republican primary for New York governor on Tuesday.

“Are we ready to fire Kathy Hochul?” Zeldin said in declaring victory at a party in Baldwin. “This November we will end one-party rule.”

In an apparent nod to the Democrats and independents he will need if he is to win in November, Zeldin said, “We aspire to a New York that is restored to glory and we can’t do it alone.” 

With nearly 9,230 of some 12, 860 election districts reporting, Zeldin was leading Andrew Giuliani by 41% to 24%, according to unofficial returns from the state Board of elections.

Rob Astorino, a former Westchester County executive, had 18% of the vote while business owner Harry Wilson had 16%, state BOE tallies showed.

Zeldin will take on Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul on Nov. 8 after she easily won her party’s nomination Tuesday.

Giuliani ran strongest in New York City while Zeldin ran stronger upstate and on his home turf of Long Island.

Astorino led comfortably in Westchester County and Wilson won upstate’s Fulton County, where he grew up.

In the lead-up to the primary vote, the campaign for the party’s top spot in the Nov. 8 general election had grown increasingly heated as candidates traded accusations about their past political positions — despite the fact that they held similar views on most policy issues.

All promised deep tax and spending cuts to make the state more affordable and said they would better fund and support law enforcement, compared with Democrats who control state government.

Seeking the GOP nomination were:

  • Zeldin, 42, a three-term congressman from Shirley and a former New York State senator. Zeldin also is an attorney and a lieutenant colonel in the United States Army Reserve.
  • Giuliani, 36, of Manhattan, a White House aide during the Trump administration and the son of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
  • Astorino, 55, of South Salem, who served as Westchester County executive for two terms in a period when Democrats had a 3:1 advantage in voter enrollment.
  • Wilson, 50, of Scarsdale, a business owner who made his fortune fixing faltering businesses. During the 2008 recession, he worked to help turn around the auto industry as a U.S. Treasury Department adviser during the administration of former Democratic President Barack Obama.

A traditionally low-turnout race such as a primary, a crowded contest with four candidates and an election just before the July 4 holiday all joined to make predictions of the outcome difficult.

In addition, thousands of absentee ballots could be postmarked as late as Tuesday night or dropped off at a polling site before the polls closed at 9 p.m.

A count of all legitimate absentee ballots will be completed within 15 days.

Each candidate said they would support the winner of the primary, who could become the first Republican governor since George Pataki retired in 2006.

Zeldin promoted his close alliance with Trump, the national GOP leader who remains popular in New York among Republicans.

As a House member, Zeldin voted against certifying Democrat Joe Biden’s victory over Trump in the 2020 election.

“I believe President Trump was a great president,” Zeldin said of Trump in a debate this month, as the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol held hearings on Trump's role in encouraging the riot.

Zeldin was endorsed by most county and state Republican chairmen.

Wilson argued that as a moderate conservative, he would be the most electable in November. He said he could attract Democrats and voters not enrolled in any political party, along with New Yorkers who strongly oppose Trump.

“One of the great strengths of our country is its diversity,” Wilson said this month. “That is the backbone of our country.”

Giuliani relied heavily on the support of his father, who accompanied him to campaign events with increasing frequency.

Many Republicans treated the former “America’s mayor” as a star, recognizing his leadership after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Rudy Giuliani, who also served as Trump’s personal attorney, had his law license suspended for making untruthful statements in defense of Trump’s attempt to overturn his 2020 election results.

Andrew Giuliani called Trump’s loss one of the “greatest crimes” in U.S. history.

Andrew Giuliani, a former golf pro, said he would bring back policing strategies his father ordered to combat crime in New York City. The tactics included “stop-and-frisk” policies that a court ruled violated citizens' civil rights.

Astorino argued he was the only Republican candidate with executive experience.

“We are in complete chaos,” Astorino said of New York State during a debate this month. “I know how we can get out of it because I did it in Westchester County.”

Astorino received more than $99,000 in campaign contributions in the final days of the campaign and aired several last-minute ads including one featuring images of Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson.

Astorino issued “15 promises” in the closing days of the campaign that included most of his major talking points, as well as a pledge to restore the name of the Tappan Zee Bridge.

Former Democratic Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo had the replacement to the Tappan Zee named for his late father, Gov. Mario M. Cuomo.

Wilson had the overall advantage in campaign contributions and TV and social media ads. Wilson said he would use $12 million of his own money in seeking the nomination — far more than the campaign funds of all his foes combined.

Zeldin relied on his months of crossing the state to secure the endorsements of most county Republican chairman, along with that of state GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy.

The GOP leaders directed volunteers to make door-to-door campaign visits for Zeldin, plant his campaign signs on lawns and staff phone banks urging Republicans to vote for Zeldin.

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