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It was a historic achievement that Kathy Hochul became the first woman elected as governor of New York, but Hochul needed help in limping across the finish line. Challenger Lee Zeldin, the Republican congressman from Long Island, had all the momentum and energy, as he hammered away at his signature issue, crime.
Zeldin easily carried Long Island by about 150,000 votes and might have had some coattails. Republicans dominated in Nassau County, snatching two congressional seats from Democrats – CD3 and CD4 – and perhaps two more upstate on a night when Republicans underperformed in other parts of the country. Those NY seats will be critical in the GOP’s attempt to retake control of the House, still uncertain the morning after.
Zeldin, however, couldn’t close the gap against Hochul. What does the race say about the state Democratic Party and the nonchalance, if not arrogance, that can become embedded in the one-party rule? Does Zeldin’s showing signal a rejuvenation of the state’s Republican Party or at least expand its reach in the State Senate, or did he catch lightning in a bottle?
After the results are sliced and diced, will it turn out that traditional Democratic constituencies like Latinos and some segments of the Asian American community can no longer be taken for granted? Democratic CD3 candidate Robert Zimmerman failed to harvest the votes in Queens that gave Tom Suozzi a victory in 2020, mostly because of concerns about hate crimes against Asians in NYC. And suburban women across the nation rejected the GOP message, but not on Long Island; does that mean the Island is trending red?
This analysis was originally published in Newsday Opinion's new Viewpoints newsletter by Michael Dobie on Nov. 9, 2022. Sign up here.