Election 2022: Kathy Hochul navigates campaign homestretch

EXCLUSIVE | On Halloween night, Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, was at Veselka, a Ukrainian restaurant in the East Village, meeting voters. 

"You're doing a great job," one woman told Hochul as she stopped by their table.


Well over a thousand restaurants closed permanently in New York City during the COVID pandemic. With rising, food, energy and housing prices, it's no surprise that many New Yorkers are ranking the economy as one of their top issues when headed to the ballot box.

"We have a billion dollars on the table to help revitalize our small businesses, especially here in Manhattan, they're still not recovered," Hochul explained. "They're not where they have been. So we're helping them."

Hochul would not commit to lowering taxes this next year but she pledged she wouldn't raise them either. 

"We are not raising their taxes," Hochul said. "We're going to try and make it easier for them to survive because they're part of our identity. Small businesses like this are who we are as New Yorkers."


Hochul has focused much of her campaign on abortion rights and stemming the flow of illegal guns into the city. 

"Don't come here today and tell us that you've got a tough-on-crime plan that's just soft and squishy on guns," Hochul said at a campaign rally earlier in the day Monday.

Murders and felony assaults were down in New York City last month compared to 2021. However, every other crime category saw a spike, including rape, robberies and grand larceny. We asked Hochul how she plans to tackle these types of crimes.

"I'm going to continue working with local law enforcement, supporting the police, funding the police, making sure that they have money from the state that they've not had before," Hochul said. "I tripled the amount of money we give for law enforcement programs. I'm helping mayors in Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo, Albany — anywhere they need help."

Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than two to one in the state but Hochul's lead has dropped from double to single digits in some polls over recent weeks. We asked Hochul why she believes this race is so close. 

But some experts say that Hochul waited too long in her campaign to focus on crime and the economy, giving momentum to the campaign of her Republican opponent, Rep. Lee Zeldin.

"It's happening all over the country, there's an anxiety out there," Hochul responded. "I understand that. But people are just getting to know me, I've been on the job just about a year now. But I work real hard. I'm fighting for New Yorkers."


Hochul has come under fire for allegedly paying a campaign donor twice the amount needed for COVID tests during the height of omicron. 

"I did everything I could in my power to get the test kits," Hochul said in her debate with Zeldin. "I'm glad I did, because we got the children back in school in New York. They didn't go back in many other places."

But there is a bill waiting on the governor's desk that would require the state comptroller to review all state contracts before they are approved, potentially keeping something like that from happening again. 

In a statement, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli urged the governor to sign the bill, saying it will help protect taxpayers from fraud and abuse. 

"By reviewing contracts before they are awarded, my office helps ensure the integrity of the procurement process and protects taxpayers and agencies," DiNapoli said. "Legislation passed by both houses in the 2022 legislative session will statutorily restore our review of certain state contracts and ensure that critical oversight checks are back in place. The Governor should sign this legislation."

Hochul, however, not committing to sign the bill as is.  

"That hasn't been in place for the last decade," Hochul said. "I'm going to take a look at that with him. And also we'll look at all the legislation that [comes my way] but right now I've always followed the rules. Always have always will."

When pressed again if she will sign the bill?

"We're working out the details," Hochul said.


Hochul is no stranger to a challenge. 

She became governor during a tumultuous time in New York's history. Gov. Andrew Cuomo resigned amid numerous scandals. Hochul, who was lieutenant governor at the time, had two weeks to put together her administration. 

Now a little more than one year later, she has been hitting the campaign trail to convince voters she is ready for the next four years.

If she wins, Hochul will become the first woman elected to a full term as governor of New York. She said that while she hopes her leadership is an example to other young women, her work will speak for itself. 

"I didn't come here to make history as the first woman governor," Hochul said. "I came here to make a difference. And that's how people will judge me many years to come."

The last day of early voting is Sunday, Nov. 6

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 8. The polls in New York will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.