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Local experts weigh in on close gubernatorial election

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, left, and Rep. Lee Zeldin
New York Now
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, left, and Rep. Lee Zeldin

Political experts are analyzing the closest gubernatorial election in New York State in years. Gov. Kathy Hochul’s five percentage point win over Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Long Island) should point out lessons both Republicans and Democrats should heed.

Grant Reeher, director of the Campbell Public Affairs Institute at Syracuse University, believes a more moderate candidate could have been successful in the race for governor this year.

"If you replay that election with someone like Mark Molinaro, like Harry Wilson, was in the primary, who was making reasonable points about where New York has to go, but was not pushing social issues but didn’t have the Trump baggage Lee Zeldin did, they could have won that election," Reeher said.

Reeher said any statewide race has to be viewed through the lens of Albany’s dysfunctional government. And early on in her tenure, it was hoped that Hochul could bring some fresh air to the capitol.

"She distanced herself right away from Andrew Cuomo, and that sort of way of doing politics, and I think there was a hope that somehow she was going to usher in changes in how Albany was going to work," Reeher said. "That turned out to be not the case."

Reeher’s suggestion for her going forward? Focus more on ethics reform, transparency and corruption, because those issues appeal to her base and moderates. And get state spending under control. By the same token, Reeher said the GOP has to find a candidate not tethered to Donald Trump and social issues.

"The big questions after elections like these is what lessons both the winners and losers draw," Reeher said. "It’s not clear to me that Kathy Hochul is going to draw the lessons that I suggested she draw from it. And it’s certainly clear to me that the Republican Party is going to draw the lessons they draw from the relatively narrow loss there."

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.