Election 2022

Zeldin makes final campaign pitch as race for governor draws to a close

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) said the state is “at a crossroads” as voters head to the polls for what he described as an “historic election.”

The congressman cast his ballot Tuesday morning at the Mastic Beach firehouse before the final round of campaigning as he seeks to become the next governor of New York. Mr. Zeldin faces current Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul in what is shaping up to be a much tighter race than New York has seen in recent gubernatorial races.

“We’re feeling great,” Mr. Zeldin said to reporters outside the firehouse after casting his ballot. “All the early reports is that throughout the entire state our supporters are coming out strong today. So if we keep that up, it’s going to be a hard fought and well-earned victory.”

Mr. Zeldin, 42, spoke about making New York safer and more affordable. Asked about the number of votes he needs in New York City, Mr. Zeldin said the target is about 30%.

“If we get less than 30% of the vote in New York City, we just don’t see how we can win the race,” he said. “If we get 35% or more inside New York City, it becomes very difficult to impossible to lose the race. So that’s basically the numbers we’re looking at.”

Mr. Zeldin has served four terms in Congress representing the East End before he decided to officially run for governor 19 months ago. At the time, it appeared his challenger would be Andrew Cuomo. Mr. Cuomo resigned in the summer of 2021, setting the stage for Ms. Hochul, 64, to become the state’s first female governor. She was the first woman to be a major party’s nominee when she the Democratic party nominated her as the candidate for this race.

Mr. Zeldin won a Republican primary to earn the GOP nod. He’s expected to stop by the Suffolk GOP watch party in Patchogue as polls close Tuesday and then spend the rest of the night in New York City.

Ms. Hochul appears to still be the favorite based on polling numbers. An Emerson College poll conducted Oct. 28-31 had Ms. Hochul with a 10-point advantage. A Trafalgar Group poll conducted Oct. 27-31, however, had the race at nearly a dead heat with Mr. Zeldin at a 1-point advantage.

Mr. Zeldin’s campaign has focused on crime, appealing to voters that he will make the state safer, highlighting specific incidents in New York City and on subways. Ms. Hochul has campaigned on the gun reform laws the state has passed and criticized Mr. Zeldin for his record on gun safety.

Ms. Hochul at a recent campaign event said Democrats are the best candidates to bring good-paying jobs, to protect the environment, to invest in quality education, to remove guns from streets, to protect women’s reproductive rights and to “protect the essence of democracy.”

Ms. Hochul has also pointed to Mr. Zeldin’s efforts to overturn the presidential election in 2020.

“To all my fellow Americans on the left, in the center & on the right, it’s time for us to have one big family talk in the Capitol & beyond,” the congressman tweeted on the afternoon of Jan. 6, 2021, shortly before a mob of Trump supporters overtook the building.

“Do you want to protect the sanctity of the ballot box and fight against voter suppression?” Ms. Hochul asked a crowd of supporters.