By MARINA VILLENEUVE
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul has a campaign war chest seven times the size of Republican challenger Lee Zeldin ahead of the November election.
State campaign finance reports due Friday show Hochul has $11.7 million in the bank, compared with the $1.6 million reported by Zeldin, a U.S. representative from Long Island.
The fundraising gap between the two candidates is steep in a state where Democrats already have the voter registration edge and legislative supermajorities.
Republicans are hoping to muster an upset by painting Democrats as easy on crime and governmental corruption. But the GOP faces a tough fight: The state’s Republican party had about $80,000 in the bank as of July 11. That’s less than one-fourth the size of the Democratic party’s $376,000 war chest.
Hochul’s biggest donors include real estate developers, hedge fund managers, health insurer Fidelis and powerful unions representing New York City hotel and restaurant workers.
Her running mate, Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado, got a boost from $943,000 in television ads paid by the independent expenditure committee Protect Our Future, which is funded by crypto firm FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried.
Zeldin’s top donors include FTX’s co-CEO Ryan Salame as well as major GOP donor and Home Depot co-founder Ken Langone.
In the June primary, Hochul scored an easy win by nabbing two-thirds of the roughly 860,000 Democratic voters and scoring wins in all of the state’s counties.
Zeldin won his party’s primary with nearly 200,000 of 445,000 Republican voters, though he lost Queens, Staten Island, Brooklyn, the Bronx and suburban Westchester County.
Zeldin has vowed to repeal liberal criminal justice reforms, hire more police officers statewide and give judges discretion when setting bail. His campaign website also says he’ll “end all indoctrination and brainwashing” in schools and lift the cap on charter schools.
Hochul, who took over after former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s resignation and is now seeking her first full four-year term, is touting New York’s recent passage of laws expanding gun control, increasing spending on COVID-19 relief and protecting abortion patients and providers.
The new campaign finance reports also showed Cuomo used over $3.5 million of campaign funds over the past year to pay law firms that have represented him amid probes into allegations he sexually harassed female employees and relied on state employees and resources for his $5.1 million book deal.
Cuomo has denied any wrongdoing, and has blasted an independent report that found he sexually harassment women in violation of civil rights laws.