Primary Preview: Voters to Choose Dem, GOP Governor Candidates in June


By Timothy Bolger, Ethan Stark Miller, Robert Pozarycki and Robbie Sequeira

Two Long Island congressmen are among four Republicans and three Democrats who party-registered voters will decide between in this month’s primaries that determine candidates to appear on Nov. 8 gubernatorial race ballots.

U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) is forgoing re-election to his North Shore seat in the hopes that he can pull off a repeat of his underdog victory that catapulted him to the Nassau County executive post two decades ago. U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (D-Shirley) is vacating his East End seat after winning the Republican nomination to challenge incumbent Democratic nominee Gov. Kathy Hochul, who’s asking voters to keep her on as New York State’s first woman governor — a job she got when her predecessor Andrew Cuomo resigned amid sexual harassment allegations.

Rounding out the list of Republicans challenging Zeldin for the GOP line are former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, former aide to ex-President Donald Trump Andrew Giuliani and businessman Harry Wilson. New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams is also challenging Hochul for the Democratic line, but will be on the ballot on the Working Families Party line regardless of how the primaries shake out. 

Early voting runs the 10-day period from June 18-26 with one day off before the June 28 primary election. Learn more about the candidates below.

Rob Astorino 2
Rob Astorino


Astorino, who previously ran for governor, said he has plenty of experience of working across the aisle with Democrats.

“I have a long history of working with Democrats of good will to move an agenda forward,” he told Politics NY. “I led Westchester County for eight years as a genuine fiscal conservative while Democrats controlled the county legislature with significant majorities. I found there were many areas in which we could agree, and eventually formed a working bipartisan majority in the Legislature that helped transform Westchester.”

He said a willingness to share credit for legislative victories helped achieve bipartisan goals in Westchester.

“When I was elected County Executive, for example, I pledged to lower taxes and hold spending flat, despite greater and greater mandate costs coming down from Albany,” he said. “I explained to Democrats and special interest groups that I would not budge on spending or taxes, but was more than willing to bring them into the budget process early to find ways to more efficiently spend what dollars we had. It worked.”

Andrew Giuliani
Andrew Giuliani (REUTERS/Brendan McDermid)


The son of former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani suggested he’s prepared to sue to get his way, if elected.

“I intend to use the leverage afforded to me under the New York State Constitution and through the courts — as decided by Silver v. Pataki and Pataki v. Assembly —  to produce the largest budget reduction in the history of the state of New York,” he told PoliticsNY. “New York’s budget, at $220 billion, is more than double that of Florida’s $97 billion, despite having roughly the same population. We owe it to New Yorkers to put an end to wasteful government spending.”

Giuliani previously told reporters that he would not “run away” from his affiliation with Trump. 

“I worked in the Trump administration for four years, and I’m proud of many of the policies that we were able to accomplish in there,” he said.

Kathy Hochul
Kathy Hochul (REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)


Hochul said after winning the Democratic nomination in February her candidacy for a full term as New York’s first woman governor is the start of a new chapter for the Empire State.

“As the leader of this party, I’m declaring that a whole new day has dawned,” said Hochul, who became governor last summer. “One that is grounded in the belief that the power and organization must rise from the bottom up. And we reject the playbook that enabled only a few to succeed, while others were left behind.”

The Buffalo native has proposed new gun reforms since the recent supermarket massacre claimed 10 lives as well as women’s rights legislation after the recent leak of a U.S. Supreme Court draft opinion suggested Roe v. Wade guaranteeing the right to an abortion may soon be overturned.

Her running mate is former U.S. Rep. Antonio Delgado, who represented the Hudson Valley until recently being named lieutenant governor.

running mate for governor
Congressman Tom Suozzi and Diana Reyna at their running-mate announcement in Brooklyn on Feb. 16. (Photo Courtesy Suozzi Campaign)


Suozzi, who unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2006, positions himself as the “common-sense Democrat” of the race — the incumbent Hochul is a centrist Democrat while Williams is a progressive — who “won’t pander to the left or back down from the right.”

One of the overarching storylines of the gubernatorial primaries is crime throughout the state, and how the prospective governor would handle it. Suozzi’s detailed 15-page “crime intervention and prevention” plan is a mixture of law and order in the now, and preventive steps to address systemic inequities and social determinants affecting crime.

“People are leaving because they can’t afford it, because they don’t feel safe and this is an important election because New Yorkers are sick of extremism and arguing on both sides, sick of corruption in Albany and they want people to deliver,” he told Bronx residents during a recent campaign stop. “I can deliver.”

His running mate is New York City Councilwoman Diana Reyna.

Harry Wilson
Harry Wilson


Wilson, who has previously run for state comptroller, touted his business experience while suggesting scrapping the current budget process and starting over.

“We will rebuild the entire budget from the ground up, as I have done in company after company, focusing on serving the core needs of New Yorkers far better than we do today, while cutting waste and ineffective programs,” he told PoliticsNY.

“I have negotiated hundreds of far more complicated deals with stakeholders who said they would never change and that the organization could not be fixed—and I have managed to develop win-win solutions every time,” he continued. “New York State will be no different. By the end of 2023, New York will be a far more affordable, far more prosperous, and far safer place to live and work for all New Yorkers if I am elected governor in November.”

Jumaane Williams
Jumaane Williams (REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs)


Williams is the only primary candidate who will remain on the ballot on a third-party line regardless of how the June election turns out. He has built a reputation as one of the city’s most progressive elected officials. 

“In this moment, I believe we need bold, principled progressive leadership in Albany to move our state forward with justice and equity, no matter the political winds,” Williams said upon winning the Working Family Party’s nomination in February.

“There is a movement building in New York,” he told reporters. “A courageous progressive movement that challenges the powerful – and helps restore that power to the people. A movement I’m proud to be a part of. Because without courageous progressive leadership, the way things have always been will stand in the way of what they can be.”

His running mate is Ana Maria Archila, an advocate who co-founded Make The Road New York.

Lee Zeldin
Lee Zeldin


Asked how he would handle the state budget process and governing in general should both chambers of the legislature remain under a Democratic supermajority, Zeldin remained hopeful that Republicans can win enough state Senate seats to take back that chamber.

“It’s possible that with a very good night the State Senate will actually flip from Democrat to Republican,” Zeldin told Politics NY. A former state lawmaker himself, he said he’d reach across the aisle to find common ground needed to get work done. 

“I’ll work with any member of the state Legislature willing to assist the cause,” he said. “I will use the budget process, home rule messages, and many other points of leverage to affect the positive outcomes New Yorkers are demanding. The voice and opinion of the public will be very helpful to achieve many of the desired solutions New Yorkers demand to restore New York to glory.”

He is also running on the Conservative Party line. His running mate is Allison Esposito, an NYPD deputy inspector who is the state’s first openly gay candidate for lieutenant governor.

To find your polling place, visit nassaucountyny.gov or suffolkcountyny.gov.

-With Reuters, PoliticsNY, amNewYork Metro and Bronx Times

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated Harry Wilson previously ran for governor. He previously ran for state comptroller.

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