BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Kathy Hochul’s 14 months in the governor’s mansion seemingly did enough to convince New Yorkers to give the state’s first female leader a full term.

Hochul, a Democrat, declared victory over Long Island Republican Lee Zeldin Tuesday night following a tougher-than-anticipated race.

“I’m deeply honored to be elected Governor of the State of New York,” Hochul tweeted after NBC and ABC projected her as the winner.

Hochul had been auditioning for the job since becoming New York’s 57th governor in late August 2021 after Andrew Cuomo resigned from office. She frequently pointed to success passing tougher gun laws and safeguarding abortion access and reproductive rights while on the campaign trail.

Hochul also helped negotiate a new stadium deal for the Buffalo Bills while distancing herself from the scandals of the Cuomo administration and her first Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin, who resigned in April following an arrest on campaign finance charges. Those accomplishments – as well as residing in a deep-blue state – helped her hold off Zeldin and earn her four more years in office.

Zeldin, who represents New York’s 1st Congressional District in Suffolk County, found success focusing on crime during the race, narrowing a gap in the polls by hitting Hochul on bail reform and focusing on high-profile crimes in New York City and beyond. He also benefitted from national support behind a “red wave” Republicans hoped for heading into Election Day and a full-throated endorsement from Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post, which dedicated several front pages to advocate for his candidacy. Hochul also attacked him as an election denier because he voted against certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election.

A Hochul victory would mark the first time a woman has been elected to the governor’s mansion. She’d also be the first upstate governor elected in over a century — not since Cortland County’s Nathan L. Miller was elected in 1920 has the governor held a true upstate background.

A win from Zeldin would have made him the first Republican governor of New York since George Pataki, who held the office from 1995 through 2006.