Despite holding a large fundraising advantage, never trailing in any polls and also being the incumbent, Gov. Kathy Hochul Friday declared herself the underdog in the race for governor against challenger Rep. Lee Zeldin.

Hochul was in Queens to mark the 10 year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy.

When it came time to speak with reporters, it was all about the race for governor, and public polls showing her opponent Zeldin catching up after trailing for months.

What You Need To Know

  • Gov. Kathy Hochul says she is the underdog in her race against Republican Lee Zeldin, despite significant voter enrollment advantages for Democrats

  • Zeldin said there is a lack of enthusiasm for Hochul among Democrats

  • Two new polls show Hochul ahead by six percentage points, despite a double digit lead just a few weeks ago


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“I think I’ve been real clear in my expectations of this race since the beginning,” Hochul said. “I’ve always said I was an underdog. I’ve been in the job a short time. I have a short, compressed period for people to get to know me. As I said on my first day in office, you may not know me, but I know you.”

When asked to explain what she meant by underdog, considering she has raised close to $50 million this past year and Democrats outnumber Republicans in New York, Hochul clarified her remarks.

“I have always fought hard for 14 elections,” Hochul said. “That is my mental state. I go into every single race fighting because circumstances sometimes you can’t control. You don’t know what’s happening national. There’s a national wave. A lot is out there. There are a lot of forces out there. So I go in with a mindset that I don’t take for granted that they are a Democrat, therefore they are going to vote for me.”

Zeldin was in Brooklyn Friday, once again highlighting rising crime rates.

He said Hochul is not energizing her Democratic base, which is why he is closing the gap.

“There’s also no enthusiasm for Kathy Hochul,” Zeldin said. “She waited too late. She ran a Rose Garden strategy, which she should deeply regret. That’s not how you do this. You should spend time with the people.”

A pair of new polls, one from a Democratic consulting firm, and another from Emerson College, show Hochul ahead of Zeldin by six percentage points.

A few weeks ago, most polls showed her ahead by double digits.

“I believe that if we were running against Andrew Cuomo right now instead of Kathy Hochul that he would be able to rally his Democratic support in New York City far, far better than what Kathy Hochul is doing right now,” Zeldin said. “She just did a massive face plant with this campaign.”

Both candidates are expected to have a robust campaign schedule this weekend.

Hochul is expected to attend several events, including a big get out the vote rally in Queens on Sunday with Mayor Eric Adams.

Early voting begins Saturday and, with Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 8.