New York Faces Contentious Gubernatorial Race


Incumbent Kathy Hochul, former lieutenant governor, is face-to-face against Representative Lee Zeldin. (Courtesy of Twitter)

Election Day is Nov. 8 and many states are faced with a contentious election. Pennsylvania’s senate race is between the state’s lieutenant governor John Fetterman and the infamous Dr. Mehmet Oz, while Kari Lake, a devout believer that former president Donald Trump won the 2020 election, may win the governor’s race in Arizona. In Fordham’s state of New York, incumbent Kathy Hochul, former lieutenant governor, is face-to-face against Representative Lee Zeldin.

The last time New York had a Republican government was under Governor George E. Pataki, a fiscal conservative who called former President Trump to step down during the 2016 election and disputed any attempt to decertify the 2020 election. Now, in 2022, the country is more polarized than ever before, with “Republicans [moving] further to the right than Democrats have to the left,” according to the Pew Research Center.

Some argue that this is the case with gubernatorial candidate Zeldin, as he has been linked to Trump due to the former president’s endorsement. Others say that Hochul has a challenging path to winning the election because of previous unfavorable decisions during her short term.

“This is an inflection point in New York politics, guaranteed to bring about a first,” said Lauren Redelman, FCRH ’24, president of Fordham’s Political Union. “If Representative Zeldin wins, he will become the first practicing Jewish person to lead the state. If Governor Hochul wins, she will become the first elected female governor in New York’s history.”

Redelman also cites the divides between “upstaters” and “downstaters” as a point of political consideration. She thinks upstaters feel that their needs are well-served by Buffalo native Hochul’s focus on them, while downstaters look to Long Islander Zeldin for change.

“[Downstaters] complain that New York’s interests are not best served by encouraging development upstate and that more money should be spent on NYC and Long Island, where well more than half of the population actually lives and where the vast majority of state revenue is generated,” said Redelman.

Abortion rights, which are codified in the State of New York’s constitution, are also a point of high tension for this election. Zeldin has said that he would not overturn New York’s abortion law if elected as governor, but not everyone is convinced.

“He has a longstanding pattern of deeply pro-life rhetoric,” said Redelman.

Zeldin’s biggest campaign issue is crime, where he and Hochul differ tremendously. He stated during their only debate that “[Hochul is] not doing enough to stem an increase in serious offenses in the state and especially New York City,” while she argued that she has “[made] efforts to stem the flow of illegal guns,” according to the New York Times.

Hochul’s biggest supporters are President Joe Biden and New York City Mayor Eric Adams, but whether their endorsements help her campaign is yet to be seen.

“Many Americans place the blame for the state’s faltering economy on President Biden and the city’s rising crime on Mayor Adams and his predecessor Mayor de Blasio, who also endorsed Hochul,” said Redelman. “I think reaffirming her commitment to the status quo which New Yorkers are tired of is a bad move.”

Esquire reports that Hochul has heeded advice to “avoid talking about crime at all at this point” because Democrats have “lost credibility” on the subject. This has made her a prime target for Zeldin, who has endlessly harped on New York City’s high crime rates as evidence of her inability to lead the state.

20.5% of Fordham’s class of 2026 is from one of New York City’s five boroughs, and other websites report that up to 40% of the student body is from the State of New York. This means thousands of eligible voters who have the ability to sway the state red or blue are a part of this very community. In their typical nonpartisan fashion, the university has not commented on the state of the election but has encouraged students to vote.

The fate of New York seems to be in the hands of young voters and the volunteers who are counting on a record turnout. Previously, in 2018, a mere 16.4% of young voters (18-29) voted, which contrasts from the national average of 31%. New York Democrats need the votes of young people to stay in office.

As of Nov. 9, Governor Hochul was named winner of the gubernatorial race.