As it neared midnight, and with results from the Suffolk County Board of Elections still not posted, Republican Congressional candidate Nick LaLota stepped to the podium at the GOP watch party at the Stereo Garden in Patchogue.
“They have you prepare a victory speech, they have you prepare a concession speech, but they don’t have you prepare a ‘We got to wait for the results’ speech,” he said.
It was that kind of night across Suffolk County, as fallout from the ransomware attack forced the Suffolk County Board of Elections to alter how the final votes would be tallied, leading to a much longer wait than usual.
Shortly before 12:30 a.m. Wednesday, the first results began to appear online as watch parties for both Democrats and Republicans had already begun to empty out.
Mr. LaLota, 43, of Amityville, a former Suffolk County Board of Elections commissioner, didn’t have to wait too much longer to find out he had won the race for the 1st Congressional District. At 1:04 a.m., the Associated Press called the race in his favor as he defeated county Legislator Bridget Fleming, the Democrat. Mr. LaLota won the seat vacated by Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), keeping the reshaped 1st District in Republican hands. Mr. Zeldin lost his bid for governor, as Kathy Hochul became the first woman elected to the state’s top position, ending the congressman’s mission to “save the state.”
Mr. LaLota declared victory early Wednesday morning and issued an statement thanking his family, campaign team and the Republican and Conservative parties.
“Finally, thank you to the voters of Suffolk County for placing your trust in me,” he said. “I am extremely thankful for the trust and confidence you have placed in me and I won’t let you down.”
Mr. LaLota said that, after being sworn in, he plans to work with the new House majority “to bring responsible and transparent government back to Washington.”
He said the election was a message to Democrats across the country that voters want less spending, a secure border, less reliance on foreign nations for oil and to stop “coddling criminals at the cost of public safety.”
Reports across the country showed that the “red wave” didn’t materialize as initially predicted in the hotly contested midterm elections, as rising inflation brought economic issues to the forefront and Republicans placed blame on Democrats.
Ms. Fleming, 62, of Noyac, in her second bid for Congress, conceded the race Wednesday morning and congratulated Mr. LaLota on his victory. She said her campaign focused on issues “critically important to Long Islanders.”
“The challenges facing our nation and Long Island communities are daunting,” she said. “We must not back down from the fight to defend the freedoms that make our great country a rich, resilient and generous nation. And our history teaches us that when Americans work together, we can overcome anything.”
Ms. Fleming lost a primary in 2020 and then was the first Democrat to declare candidacy for the 2022 race. The long journey ultimately ended early Wednesday morning as unofficial results from the Board of Elections show Mr. LaLota had secured 55.81% of the votes compared to 44.09% for Ms. Fleming. A handful of districts were not yet reported in those results.
Republican state Sen. Anthony Palumbo of New Suffolk won reelection, as did Democrat Fred Thiele in the 1st Assembly District that now includes Southold Town. Mr. Palumbo had secured about 56.39% of the vote to defeat Democratic challenger Skyler Johnson, who finished with about 43.51%. Mr. Palumbo won his second term in the Senate after previously serving in the Assembly.
“This is a team effort as you all know,” Mr. Palumbo told the crowd in Patchogue late Tuesday before the results had been set. “We don’t get here without the hard work of all our volunteers and, just as importantly, the hard work from our family.”
Incumbent Republican Jodi Giglio easily won reelection in the 2nd Assembly District that includes Riverhead Town. The former Riverhead councilwoman finished with more than 66% of the votes to win a second term.
In Southold Town, voters approved Proposition 3 to allow a 0.5% real estate tax to fund affordable housing opportunities. The town would now have to adopt a plan to implement community housing funds. East Hampton and Southampton also approved the addition to the CPF, while in Shelter Island, unofficial results were showing an eight-vote difference with 889 against the measure and 881 in favor. Officials said there were absentee ballots still to be counted that could swing that vote. Riverhead Town opted against putting the measure up for vote.
Ms. Fleming did not speak at the Democrats’ watch party at IBEW Local 104 in Holtsville. She issued a statement at around 11:40 p.m. updating voters on the delays in results. The Board of Elections had informed the candidates that a computer problem prevented the remote downloading of election results.
At each of the watch parties, the party chairman addressed the crowd to share the bad the news that results would likely not come until the overnight hours.
GOP chair Jesse Garcia said there were 24 locations across the county where memory cards from each polling place are uploaded to a server.
“That system is slow and not operating, so the decision has been made that all 1,400 memory cards from each voting machine will be brought back to Yaphank and uploaded accurately, properly, so that we have an accurate account of this election,” he said shortly before 11 p.m.
Rich Schaffer, the Democratic chair, made a similar statement around the same time at the Democratic watch party. Results were posted through the New York State Board of Elections website since county BOE site remains down.
“They have the early voting results and they have absentee results, but they made a decision not to release anything or a substantial amount of results back into the building and then they’ll start posting them on the website,” Mr. Schaffer had said.
Before any results had been released from Suffolk County, Ms. Hochul declared victory in her race against Mr. Zeldin and delivered a speech thanking voters.
“Tonight, you made your voices heard loud and clear. You made me the first woman ever elected to be the governor of the state of New York. But I’m not here to make history. I’m here to make a difference,” she said to a crowd of supporters.
On Wednesday morning, results from the state BOE showed Ms. Hochul had about 52.8% of the vote compared to 46.99% for Mr. Zeldin, a much tighter race than New York has seen for governor in recent elections. Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo secured about 62% of the statewide vote in 2018.
Mr. Zeldin, speaking to reporters Tuesday morning after voting at the Mastic Beach firehouse, said he estimated he needed to win 30% or more of the New York City vote to take the election. Preliminary results showed Mr. Zeldin had secured about 514,000 votes in NYC, which placed him right at that 30% mark. It wasn’t enough.
“If we get 35% or more inside New York City, it becomes very difficult to impossible to lose the race,” he said Tuesday morning.
Mr. Zeldin, who briefly stopped by the Patchogue GOP party with his family as polls closed, took to the podium in New York City about midnight and did not concede, instead saying that the outstanding votes across the state, including in Suffolk County, would narrow the gap between himself and Ms. Hochul.
“We have been crushing the Election Day vote all across the entire state,” Mr. Zeldin said. “What’s going to happen is that over the next couple of hours you’re going to see the race continue to get closer and closer and closer and closer. This includes, by the way, on Long Island, you’re going to see a massive victory coming out of Long Island, which is also going to be closing the gap.”
The gap did close, but not enough for Mr. Zeldin to become the first Republican governor since George Pataki, who served from 1995 to 2006.
The AP called the governor’s race at 12:52 a.m.
Mr. Zeldin congratulated Ms. Hochul Wednesday afternoon.
“This race was a once in a generation campaign, with a very close margin in the bluest of blue states,” he said. … Those controlling Albany should take note. New Yorkers of all walks of life are sick of the attacks on their wallets, their safety, their freedoms and the quality of their kids’ education and are hitting their breaking point.”
Mr. Zeldin easily won Suffolk County with about 58.5% of the vote. He also won Nassau County with about 55%.
Democrats ruled in other statewide races. Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli won reelection, as did attorney general Letitia James and U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer.
In county races, Republican Vincent Puleo won the county clerk position and Republican John Kennedy was reelected as county comptroller.
A statewide proposition for the Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act of 2022 received about 59% of the vote to be approved. A second proposal for the county was easily approved to set 12-year total term limits for the offices of county executive, county legislator and county comptroller, whether served consecutively or not.
Reporting by Brianne Ledda, Tim Gannon, Tara Smith and Melissa Azofeifa
Editor’s Note: This story was updated Wednesday.
Below are live updates posted on Election Night:
Update (12:58 a.m.): The Associated Press called the New York governor race at 12:52 a.m., saying Kathy Hochul had defeated Rep. Lee Zeldin of Shirley. With 89% of votes in, Ms. Hochul had 52.9% of the votes compared to 47.1% for Mr. Zeldin.
Update (12:25 a.m.): Unofficial results have begun to display for Suffolk County with the Board of Elections website showing 53% of districts reporting across the entire county.
In the 1st Congressional District, Republican Nick LaLota is showing 53.42% of the votes compared to 46.45% for Bridget Fleming. Those results account for about 58% of districts.
In the 1st Senate District, incumbent Republican Anthony Palumbo has shown to have 52.49% of the votes, compared to 47.36% for Democratic challenger Skyler Johnson. Those results account for about 55% of the districts reporting.
Incumbent Jodi Giglio is the projected winner in the 2nd Assembly District with 62.97% of the votes compared to 36.88% for Democratic challenger Wendy Hamberger. Those results show just over 50% of districts reporting.
Update (12:15 a.m.): Rep. Lee Zeldin took to the podium in New York City at about midnight and did not concede, instead saying that the outstanding votes across the state, including in Suffolk County, would narrow the gap between himself and Gov. Kathy Hochul.
“We have been crushing the Election Day vote all across the entire state,” Mr. Zeldin said. “What’s going to happen is that over the next couple of hours you’re going to see the race continue to get closer and closer and closer and closer. This includes by the way on Long Island, you’re going to see a massive victory coming out of Long Island, which is also going to be closing the gap.”
With 80% of votes counted, Mr. Zeldin has totaled 45.8% of the vote, compared to 54.2% for Ms. Hochul.
Update (11:50 p.m.): County Legislator Bridget Fleming issued a statement at 11:40 p.m. on the results not yet coming in.
“We have been informed by the Suffolk County Board of Elections that a computer problem has prevented the remote downloading of election results,” she said. “Results are being reported manually, which will take some time. We will provide updates as we receive further information.”
Update (11:45 p.m.): Gov. Kathy Hochul has declared victory in the governor race, defeating Republican challenger Lee Zeldin of Shirley. The AP has not yet called the race at the time of the victory speech.
“Thank you New York … Tonight, you made your voices heard loud and clear. You made me the first woman ever elected to be the governor of the state of New York. But I’m not here to make history. I’m here to make a difference,” she said to a crowd of supporters.
With nearly 72% of votes counted as of around 11:40 p.m., Ms. Hochul had 54.87% of the votes compared to 44.24% for Mr. Zeldin.
“The lessons of tonight’s victory are that given the choice, New Yorkers refuse to go backward on our long march toward progress,” she said. “We embrace the torch that the has been passed to us from all those who have fought the good fight years before we came here. WE commit to make that torch glow even brighter before we pass it on to the next generation.”
Update (11:15 p.m.): Rich Schaffer, the Democratic chair, addressed the crowd in Holtsville and cautioned results might not come in until 2-2:30 a.m., as the crowd groaned.
“They have some results, but they’re not releasing them,” he said. “They have the early voting results and they have absentee results, but they made a decision not to release anything or a substantial amount of results back into the building and then they’ll start posting them on the website.”
Update (11 p.m.): Jesse Garcia, the Suffolk GOP chair, addressed the crowd in Patchogue just before 11 p.m. to provide an update on the delayed results and cautioned it could take a few more hours.
“To ensure accuracy and the integrity of these elections, there’s a system in place where at 24 locations memory cards from all polling places and election districts are uploaded to a server,” he said. “That system is slow and not operating, so the decision has been made that all 1,400 memory cards from each voting machine will be brought back to Yaphank and uploaded accurately, property so that we have an accurate account of this election.”
Update (10:40 p.m.): With more than half of districts reporting, Gov. Kathy Hochul holds about 58% of the votes, compared to 41% for Lee Zeldin. Ms. Hochul has held a lead since the first results started to come, but the gap has been narrowing as more results come in. Initial results featured early voting that likely favored Democrats, as well as votes from New York City.
Update (10:20 p.m.): Democratic attorney general Letitia James declared victory in her race against Republican Michael Henry. Results from the state Board of Elections was showing Ms. James, the incumbent, with 61.45% of the vote with about 48% of districts reporting.
“Over the past four years, we have worked tirelessly to make New York a fairer and more just place for all, and tonight is an affirmation of all that we have accomplished,” Ms. James tweeted. “I promise to keep fighting for the rights of every person in our great state and ensure the rule of law is applied equally to everyone.”
Update (10:05 p.m.): The Suffolk County Board of Elections was not yet showing any results just over an hour after polls closed. Results were expected to begin to be posted online shortly.
Update (9:46 p.m.): In Holtsville, the crowd was mostly quiet in the first 45 minutes after polls closed. People were gathering around a screen displaying results.
Update (9:38 p.m.): U.S. Senator Charles Schumer was projected as the winner almost immediately as polls closed in New York. The AP called the race for the incumbent U.S. senator, who was expected to easily win.
Update (9:27 p.m.): Mr. Zeldin briefly addressed the crowd at Stereo Garden in Patchogue before joining supporters in New York City. The Suffolk GOP has typically used the location, previously known as the Emporium, as its election night viewing location.
“We wanted to stop by and say thank you,” Mr. Zeldin said on stage, standing with his wife and two daughters. “Tonight, we’re on our way into Manhattan. We have a big, statewide watch party. We have our statewide slate and a whole bunch of other candidates. My heart is here with each and every one of you.”