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Kathy Hochul wins Democratic primary for governor


Gov. Kathy Hochul cruised to an easy victory in Tuesday’s Democratic primary election, setting her up to seek a full term in November after taking office last year when a sexual harassment scandal forced former Gov. Andrew Cuomo to quit in disgrace.

Hochul — New York’s first female governor — held a 65% to 22% lead over city Public Advocate Jumaane Williams with outgoing US Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Long Island) trailing both at 13% with 18% of the precincts reporting when the Associated Press called the race.

Hochul, 63, consistently led the pre-election polls, with the most recent putting her a staggering 36 percentage points ahead of Suozzi.

The surveys led Democratic consultant Evan Stavisky to predict to The Post earlier this month that “it would take an actual miracle, rather than a Hail Mary, for the governor to lose this primary,”

But the Buffalo native wasn’t considered a shoo-in until after Cuomo decided to stay on the sidelines, with a March survey showing him just 8 percentage points behind Hochul a hypothetical primary contest.

Hochul also faced a brief challenge from Attorney General Letitia James, who was seen as a likely Cuomo opponent before he resigned, accusing her of railroading him with a probe that found he harassed 11 women, including nine current or former state workers.

Tom Suozzi
Rep. Tom Suozzi trailed Hochul in the most recent polls by nearly 40 points.
AP

But James — who also released a blockbuster report about Cuomo’s undercounting of nursing home deaths from COVID-19 — abandoned her short-lived bid for governor in December and decided to seek re-election instead.

That move came after she failed to hit a $5 million fundraising target set by Democratic leaders in Brooklyn, her political base, sources have told The Post.

Hochul’s confidence that she had the primary in the bag apparently led her to skip the first of three scheduled debates with her Democratic rivals, claiming she needed to focus instead on the scheduled final day of the legislative session.

The move led Suozzi and Williams to knock her on issues including crime, gun control and mayoral control of New York City schools.

At the second debate, Hochul’s rivals took shots at Hochul’s plan to use $850 million in taxpayer money to help build a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills while her husband serves as general counsel for the company that runs the concession stands, restaurants and retail outlets there.

Jumaane Williams
Public Advocate Jumaane Williams pounced on Hochul’s decision to opt out of the first of three debates for the nomination.
AP

The final face-off featured a clash between Hochul and Suozzi over her appointment of former Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin, who resigned following his indictment on federal corruption charges involving an alleged scheme to trade a state grant for campaign contributions.

But none of the exchanges included the sort of knock-out blow Hochul’s rivals needed to move the needle in public-opinion surveys that also showed her likely to prevail over any GOP challenger in November.

Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than 2-to-1 in the deep blue Empire State, which hasn’t had a GOP governor since George Pataki left office in 2006.



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