By MARINA VILLENEUVE – Associated Press
ALBANY, NY (AP) — Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul has a campaign war chest seven times larger than 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 to $1.6 million reported by Zeldin, a U.S. Representative from Long Island.
The fundraising gap between the two candidates is significant in a state where Democrats already have the edge on voter registration and legislative supermajorities.
Republicans hope to wreak havoc by portraying Democrats as easy on crime and government corruption. But the GOP faces an uphill battle: The state’s Republican party had about $80,000 in the bank as of July 11. That’s less than a quarter 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’s hotel and restaurant workers.
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His running mate, Lt. Governor Antonio Delgado, received a $943,000 boost in TV ads paid for by independent spending committee Protect Our Future, which is funded by crypto firm FTX CEO Sam Bankman- Fried.
Zeldin’s top donors include FTX co-CEO Ryan Salame, as well as top GOP donor and Home Depot co-founder Ken Langone.
In the June primary, Hochul scored an easy victory capturing two-thirds of the roughly 860,000 Democratic voters and scoring victories in every county in the state.
Zeldin won his party’s primary with nearly 200,000 Republican voters out of 445,000, although he lost Queens, Staten Island, Brooklyn, the Bronx and suburban Westchester County.
Zeldin pledged to repeal liberal criminal justice reforms, hire more police across the state, and give judges discretion to set bail. His campaign website also says he will “end all indoctrination and brainwashing” in schools and lift the cap on charter schools.
Hochul, who took over after the resignation of former Governor Andrew Cuomo and is now seeking his first full four-year term, touts the recent passage of laws in New York expanding gun control, increasing spending for aiding COVID-19 and protecting abortion patients and providers.
The new campaign finance reports also showed Cuomo used more than $3.5 million in campaign funds over the past year to pay law firms that represented him amid is investigating allegations that 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 blasted an independent report that found he sexually harassed women in violation of civil rights laws.
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