- With 93% of the votes tallied, Kathy Hochul is projected to become New York’s first elected female governor.
- Hochul served one year as Governor after Andrew Cuomo resigned in August 2021 amid sexual harassment allegations.
- As of Nov. 9, her opponent, Lee Zeldin, hadn’t conceded the election.
Kathy Hochul is projected to be the first elected female governor of the Empire State. With 93% of the vote in, Hochul, 62, is projected to defeat Lee Zeldin, with the vote totals of Wednesday morning showing Hochul at 52.7% (3,022,576 votes) and Zeldin at 47.3% (2,710,211 votes), per Politico.
“Tonight you made your voices heard loud and clear. And and you made me the first woman ever elected to be the governor of the state of New York. But I’m not here to make history, I’m here to make a difference,” she told her supporters on Tuesday (Nov. 8), per the Associated Press. “I have felt a weight on my shoulders to make sure that every little girl and all the women of the state who’ve had to bang up against glass ceilings everywhere they turn, to know that a woman could be elected in her own right and successfully govern a state as rough and tumble as New York.”
BREAKING: I’m deeply honored to be elected Governor of the State of New York. pic.twitter.com/74NRknL0XM
— Kathy Hochul (@KathyHochul) November 9, 2022
Zeldin declined to concede, per Politico, saying there were 1.4 million votes likely to be counter – particularly in Long Island’s Suffolk County, where Zeldin is from and serves as a member of Congress. “What’s going to happen is over the course of these next couple of hours you’re going to see the race continue to get closer and closer and closer,” Zeldin told supporters.
Hochul spent one year serving as New York’s governor following Andrew Cuomo’s resignation in August 2021. Cuomo, 64, stepped down from the position amid a growing number of sexual harassment allegations.
New Yorkers haven’t elected a Republican governor since George Pataki won his third term in 2002. But, Zeldin – who defended Donald Trump during the former president’s two impeachments, voted against certifying the 2020 election results, and has a long history of anti-abortion stances – tried to paint Hochul as being soft on crime. With an economy dealing with inflation, and Hochul with only one year of governorship under her belt, it was a tough election and the best showing for the GOP since Pataki.
As she begins to serve her first elected term, here’s what you need to know about Gov. Kathy Hochul.
Gov. Hochul’s Political Career Started In College
A Buffalo native, Hochul started getting involved in politics while she was a student at Syracuse University. One of her most noteworthy and lasting impacts was her effort to have the college’s sports stadium named after Syracuse alum Ernie Davis, who was also the first Black football player to win the Heisman Trophy, rather than the “Carrier Dome,” which it was dubbed after a donation from Carrier Corporation. While she wasn’t successful in getting the name changed, the college later named the field inside the stadium “Ernie Davis Legends Field” in 2009 via The New York Times.
Other political efforts that Hochul led during her undergraduate career were varied. Some notable campaigns included rallying students around a boycott of the school bookstore in protest of high prices and convincing the university leadership to pull out investments in South Africa to protest Apartheid. While she was an activist on campus, she remained involved as an alumni, according to The Syracuse Post Standard. She often visited the campus and kept in touch with Kent Syverud.
Kathy Hochul’s Early Political Carrer
After graduating from Syracuse, Hochul earned her law degree from the Catholic University of America in 1983. After graduating, she worked as an attorney at a private law firm but quickly entered the world of public service with Democratic politicians, first as an aide to New York Congressman John LaFalce from 1984 to 1986 and then to New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan from 1986 to 1988, via Ballotpedia.
Hochul Served In New York State’s Congress For Two Years
After aiding the New York representative and senator, Hochul began striking out on her own for public office. She was a town council member for the upstate New York town of Hamburg. She was later appointed as the Deputy County Clerk of Eerie County in 2003 and later became the county clerk in 2007, according to her bio. Perhaps most notably, though, Hochul made her national political debut when ran for Congress as the representative for New York’s 26th District in a special election when Rep. Chris Lee resigned in 2011. She struck out on a middle-of-the-road campaign that appealed to both Democrats and Republicans. “People don’t like the hyperpartisan, us-versus-them mentality. They want (representatives) to stop the fighting and work together to solve problems,” she told The Lockport Journal in 2011.
Hochul’s Work Outside Of Office
Before she became the Lieutenant Governor, Hochul was M&T Bank’s Group Vice President for Strategic Relationships. Besides her work for the Buffalo, NY bank, Hochul was incredibly active in local efforts around her hometown and county. She worked with her mother and aunt to establish the Kathleen Mary House, which helps provide housing to domestic abuse victims, in 2006. She also started the Village Action Coalition, whose goal is to assist “local businesses survive competition from big box stores,” via her bio.
Hochul has remained an advocate for small businesses. She has tweeted on several occasions about local businesses she visits throughout New York, but it seems like she still has a particular fondness for upstate. Hochul campaigned on a commitment to working families. “Kathy is working with the Governor and state legislature to prioritize making lives better for all New York families – because no one working full-time should live in poverty,” her campaign site said. “Kathy has led efforts to lift up communities across this state and secured a record increase of workforce development funding.”
Hochul’s Family Life
Part of Hochul’s dedication to the causes she supports seems like it came from her upbringing. Her grandparents were Irish immigrants, and her dad, Jack Courtney, was a migrant worker and later a steelworker before meeting her mother. She and her husband, William Hochul, a former U.S. Attorney for Western New York, moved back to the Empire State in 1991. They made the move after their first child was born at the advice of Hochul’s old boss, Daniel Moynihan. “He said to her: ‘In 30 years, you won’t remember the days you spent here in the office, but you will remember the days you spent with your children,'” her sister Sheila Heinze told The New York Times in 2011. The couple has a son and a daughter, Will and Katie.