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Tipsheet

A Republican Elected Governor in NY? A Few Signs Say It Could Happen

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Next Tuesday, New Yorkers head to vote in their state primary, and will pick their nominees for governor, among other races. Gov. Kathy Hochul (D-NY) Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) currently lead their party's primary races, according to an Emerson poll conducted earlier this month. Assuming that is the ultimate match-up come November, it's possible that New York State may have a Republican governor for the first time since Gov. George Pataki, who was first elected in 1994 and served for three consecutive terms. 

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While it may seem like a long-shot, considering that the state has been dominated by Democratic governors, many factors point to a potential win for Zeldin.

Last Thursday, the New York Post editorial board endorsed Zeldin for governor, noting "Lee Zeldin is the best bet for governor to save New York." The editorial begins by offering some stark warnings about what's going on in the state:

New York state is on the edge of a cliff — this fall’s election may be the last chance to pull it back.

Residents are fleeing, driven out by raging crime and ever-higher costs of living. Progressive policies are making everything worse: disastrous criminal-justice “reforms,” ever-higher taxes, job-killing regulations and an insane “climate-action plan” that guarantees soaring utility bills and regular blackouts.

Voters are furious. But November offers a real chance to reject the progressive suicide pact and break the corrupting one-party stranglehold on New York.

The state has, for the first time in a long time, a realistic chance for a Republican governor — and a strong crop of GOP candidates.

The editorial also makes a telling point about how Rep. Zeldin has beaten incumbents before, including when he ran against Brian X. Foley in 2010 for the State Senate and when he ran against then Rep. Tim Bishop for New York's 1st Congressional District in 2014. He still holds that seat today. 

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When speaking with Townhall in April of last year, not long after he announced he was running, Rep. Zeldin offered "you could argue that the alignment has never been better in my entire life," to win his race for governor.

In speaking with Fox News' Brian Kilmeade on his radio program, Michael Goodwin, a columnist for the New York Post, also sounded cautiously optimistic, in that he said "this is the year... when that's possible." He also pointed out that "it looks like a red wave is forming" and "New York is not exempt."

There indeed looks to be a red wave coming this November, with Republicans predicted to win back control of the U.S. House of Representatives and potentially the U.S. Senate as well.

When it comes to statewide races, President Joe Biden's low poll numbers may be dragging down Gov. Hochul as well. Even in New York, which, again, is considered reliably Democratic, Biden is underwater in the polls. According to a Civiqs poll last updated on Sunday, 48 percent of New Yorkers disapprove of his job performance, compared to the 40 percent who approve. 

Then there's a Sienna College poll that was released last Thursday, which shows just 35 percent of New Yorker voters think Biden is doing an "excellent" or "good" job. Almost two-thirds, at 65 percent, think he's doing just a "fair" or "poor" job. In fact, a plurality, at 39 percent, say he's doing a "poor" job. 

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The poll also asked respondents what they think of the job Gov. Hochul is doing. While her numbers are better than Biden's, they're still not great. Just 41 percent think she's doing an "excellent" or "good" job, while 52 percent think she's doing a "fair" or "poor" job.

Another question may also be a warning sign for the sitting governor. "If Kathy Hochul wins the primary for governor later this month, and is the Democratic candidate for governor in 2022, as things stand now would you vote to elect Hochul as governor or would you prefer someone else," one question asked. Voters were pretty evenly split, as 46 percent said they'd elect her, but 44 percent said they'd prefer someone else. 

It's worth mentioning Gov. Pataki once more, as he was first elected in 1994, which was a particularly good year for Republicans at the Congressional level and in the states. During then President Bill Clinton's first midterm elections, also known as the Republican Revolution, the GOP had a net gain of 54 seats in the House and a pickup of eight seats in the Senate. 

The statewide races last November in Virginia and even New Jersey spell further hope for Republicans. 

In electing Gov. Glenn Younkgin, Lieutenant Governor Winsome Earl Sears and Attorney General Jason Miyares, Virginians elected Republicans statewide for the first time since 2009. Republicans also gained control of the General Assembly.

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Gov. Phil Murphy managed to fend off Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli in New Jersey, but the race was closer than expected and it was called for a few days. 

While Cook Political Report and Inside Elections currently have the New York gubernatorial race at "Solid Democratic," which is the most definitive ranking, Sabato's Crystal Ball has it at "Likely Democratic."

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