Nick Langworthy, the New York State Republican Party chairman, defeated Carl Paladino in a primary in New York’s 23rd Congressional District on Tuesday, delivering a win for the party establishment against perhaps its most polarizing figure.
Mr. Langworthy, who has overseen the state party since 2019, was declared the winner by The Associated Press.
The race in the 23rd District had caused a schism among some New York Republicans, who are badly outnumbered in a deeply liberal state. The two candidates, former allies in Buffalo-area politics, are party die-hards who have professed abiding loyalty to former President Donald J. Trump.
With a history of racist and sexist remarks, Mr. Paladino, who had mounted an unsuccessful run for governor in 2010, had repeatedly criticized Mr. Langworthy about his candidacy. He argued that it was a distraction from the party’s efforts to unseat Gov. Kathy Hochul, who ascended to the governor’s mansion after the resignation of Andrew M. Cuomo in August 2021.
Ms. Hochul’s opponent, Representative Lee Zeldin of Long Island, is seen by many party faithful as their best chance in a governor’s race in two decades; the last time the Republicans won a statewide race in New York was 2002, when George E. Pataki won a third term as governor.
While Mr. Langworthy had secured the support of many local officials in the district — which runs from the Buffalo suburbs to near Binghamton — Mr. Paladino’s candidacy had been backed by Representative Elise Stefanik, a right-wing devotee of Mr. Trump who serves as the No. 3 Republican in the House.
The early returns showed Mr. Paladino ahead, with a lead of several thousand votes in the Buffalo suburbs in Erie County that are his political home base. But as more votes were tallied, particularly in the rural Southern Tier region south of Buffalo, Mr. Langworthy was able to reverse the initial gap.
“Tonight, the Southern Tier made me the comeback kid,” Mr. Langworthy said. “This is an overwhelming victory.”
Mr. Paladino did not make an appearance at his election night party in Orchard Park, N.Y. For most of the evening, his supporters were ebullient, as Paladino appeared to be solidly in the lead. But the crowd thinned out as the race tightened.
At around 11:30 p.m., with the race still uncalled, Mr. Paladino said on Twitter that the race was “coming down to the wire” but cautioned that many votes were left to be counted.
But Mr. Langworthy told his supporters roughly 15 minutes later that Mr. Paladino, who he referred to as a “foul-mouthed developer,” was mistaken.
The contest for an open seat emerged shortly after Representative Chris Jacobs — a scion of a powerful Buffalo family — decided not to seek a new term, abandoning his re-election effort after he announced his support for a series of gun control measures in the wake of a May 14 massacre in a Buffalo supermarket.
Mr. Langworthy, 41, is anticipated to win in November in the 23rd District — which is considered the most Republican region in the state. His Democratic opponent will be Max Della Pia, a retired Air Force colonel.
Dan Higgins contributed reporting.