In the end, it was Gov. Kathy Hochul's show.
The incumbent governor who is seeking a full, four-year term received the lion's share of the delegate vote at the state Democratic convention on Thursday. Neither of her rivals came close, and in some instances, tried to even compete to gain a spot on the primary ballot.
So instead, both New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi plan to go the petition route — a complex and costly avenue for an underdog campaign.
At issue was neither candidate reaching 25% of the weighted delegate vote at the state convention that would have qualified them for the ballot. Williams received 12%, while Suozzi chose to not compete.
Suozzi, a Long Island congressman, has already signaled his campaign will use a mix of volunteers and paid petition signatures to gain access to the ballot in June and compete against Hochul with voters.
Williams pointed to the delegate vote for him on Thursday being more than double the total he recieved in 2018 when he ran for lieutenant governor.
"We knew coming in here that was pagentry for the incumbent," he said in an interview.
Williams will use his campaign's organizational might, which comes with the backing of the Working Families Party, to help carry the petitions in the coming weeks.
"We always viewed this as a glass half full either way. As an organizer, I always valued having this as a tool to organize people around," he said.
Going the petition route can help a campaign build person-to-person name recognition with voters.
"We're able to get down and speak to folks in a way the party sometimes to forgets to do," Williams said. "We're able to explain our vision to people."