History was made on Wednesday when Gov. Kathy Hochul became the state’s first duly elected woman governor, defeating Republican challenger Lee Zeldin in what was considered a nail-biter of an election contest.
New Yorkers weren’t exactly waking up to the "red wave" many candidates and pundits had expected, but there were some notable shifts up and down the ballot.
Here are some takeaways from the general election:
Zeldin reaches 30% in NYC but falls short
The day before the election, Zeldin said he could win statewide if he got 30% of the vote in New York City. And if he got to 35%, it would be difficult for him not to win.
He ultimately got 30% on the nose, and lost statewide by single digits.
As expected, Zeldin outperformed Hochul on Long Island. In his home county of Suffolk, Zeldin was up by about 16 points on Hochul with more than 90% of election districts reporting, a margin that helped keep the statewide race tight.
But Hochul was able to pick her county of Erie — home to Buffalo, where she lives — by about 6 points. Zeldin’s supporters had been hoping that he could turn the county red, which would have given him a major boost.
“I'm pretty certain that Lee Zeldin's going to win Erie County,” Zeldin campaign pollster John McLaughlin told Gothamist last week.
Hochul herself had predicted the Republican calculus would be flawed and she would perform well in Erie.
“Historic narratives don't hold water this year because I'm the first person running for governor from upstate in 100 years,” she told reporters last week.
It wasn’t exactly a ‘red wave’
While the midterm elections have been known to bring bad news to the incumbent party, Tuesday night’s election results came back much brighter than many Democrats had expected.
On the campaign trail, Zeldin often referenced the “red wave” that was expected to flip several seats statewide for Republicans, as well as in both the U.S. House and the Senate. But in New York, that wave did not prove strong enough to buoy the Long Island congressman to victory.
For Zeldin, the “wave” ended up looking more like a ripple. While he did end up nailing his target of collecting 30% of the New York City vote, he still did not receive enough votes in the heavily Democratic state to become its first Republican elected governor in 20 years.
On the national stage, Republicans appeared poised to take control of Congress, but only by a few seats as of 1:30 a.m. Wednesday. Control of the Senate remained a tossup.
The tumultuous redistricting process definitely made it a tougher field for some Democrats. In New York's 11th Congressional District, which encompasses Staten Island and south Brooklyn, incumbent Nicole Malliotakis won decisively over Democrat Max Rose, beating him by more than 20 points. When Rose entered the race, the district was drawn much more favorably for Democrats with bigger chunks of bluer Brooklyn neighborhoods. But when the courts and a special master took over, the lines went back to a Republican-leaning district.
The 17th Congressional District in the Hudson Valley, Sean Patrick Maloney, head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee trails Republican Michael Lawler by more than 15,000 votes, or 6% of the vote. That’s the seat Maloney decided to run in after redistricting that forced Rep. Mondaire Jones out of his seat. He ran unsuccessfully in the 10th Congressional Primary in Manhattan and Brooklyn.
Up in the 18th Congressional District, also in the Hudson Valley, Democrat Pat Ryan, who won that special election this summer, holds a less than 1% lead over Republican Colin Schmidt.
Environmental ballot initiative
New Yorkers overwhelmingly approved a statewide measure to allow the state Legislature to borrow $4.2 billion to fund climate resiliency projects by selling bonds. The passage was a major win for environmentalists, who have been sounding the alarm for the state to properly adjust for climate change.
The monies have been earmarked for projects that fall under several categories: climate change mitigation, restoration and flood-risk reduction, open space land conservation and recreation and water quality improvement.
Voters backed the measure by a 60%-28% margin, with more than 12% of voters failing to flip their ballots or otherwise leaving the proposal blank, according to unofficial results.
The state can now begin the process of selling bonds immediately.
Down-ballot races a mixed bag for both parties
All 26 New York congressional districts and 213 state legislative districts were on the ballot this year, and both parties had their wins and losses.
As of 2 a.m. Wednesday, Democrats were poised to win at least 15 of the state’s congressional districts, while Republicans won at least eight. Three districts were too close to call, including Maloney’s race.
In the state Legislature, Democrats will retain strong majorities in both the Senate and Assembly — which was never really in doubt. But the party appeared to suffer some defeats in areas of New York City where Hochul and Zeldin ran tight.
That includes longtime Assemblyman Peter Abbate Jr., a Brooklyn Democrat first elected to the chamber in 1986. Abbate Jr. appeared to lose his district — which includes Bensonhurst and Borough Park — to Republican Lester Chang by about 600 votes, according to unofficial results from the city Board of Elections.
Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz, a Democrat first elected in 2000, lost his race to Republican Michael Novakhov by more than 4,000 votes in a district that includes part of southern Brooklyn, including Brighton Beach.
In the state Senate, Democrats were declaring victory in at least 40 of the chamber’s 63 districts.