This story has been updated.
New York’s Democratic incumbent Gov. Kathy Hochul has been elected to her first full term in office, fending off her Republican challenger, Long Island Rep. Lee Zeldin, NBC News projects.
Hochul is leading Zeldin, who represents the state’s 1st Congressional District covering much of Suffolk County, by five percentage points, 52.7 to 47.3 percent, as of 6 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 9, with 93 percent of the vote counted.
"I'm deeply honored to be elected Governor of the State of New York," Hochul posted on Twitter shortly after the race was called.
Hochul, a former lieutenant governor, and the state’s first female governor, assumed office in August 2021 when Andrew Cuomo resigned amid allegations of sexual misconduct. She becomes the first woman elected New York governor.
Polling showed the race between Hochul and Zeldin tightened dramatically to just a few percentage points in the weeks leading up to Election Day. One poll in late October 2022 showed Zeldin with a slight lead.
Zeldin, who had the backing of former President Donald Trump, repeatedly hammered Hochul on the campaign trail for rising crime and laid blame on her party for rising inflation.
“New York is in crisis,” Zeldin said at their only debate, held in October 2022. “You’re poorer and less safe because of Kathy Hochul and extreme policies. This is your opportunity to save New York.”
Hochul fired back at Zeldin, saying his constant emphasis on rising crime and threats to suspend bail reform amounted to politics of panic.
“You can either work on keeping people scared or you can focus on keeping them safe,” she said at the debate.
“I have worked hard to have real policies that are making a difference,” she said, before citing declining murders and shootings in New York City since she took office.
Hochul began her political career in 1994, serving on the Hamburg town board in Erie County.
She later served as Erie County Clerk from 2007 to 2011 before representing New York’s 26th Congressional District in the US House from 2011 to 2013.
Cuomo tapped her as his running mate in New York's gubernatorial race in 2014. She was sworn in as lieutenant governor in January 2015.
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