Hochul holds cash lead heading into final month of campaigning as Zeldin makes up some ground

Governor Kathy Hochul (right) and Rep. Lee Zeldin.
Photos courtesy of Mike Groll/Office of Governor Kathy Hochul and Zeldin campaign

Governor Kathy Hochul continues to hold a large fundraising advantage going into the final month of campaigning before the Nov. 8 general election, but her GOP rival Rep. Lee Zeldin has made up some ground with the help of Republican figures like former President Donald Trump, according to campaign finance filings released last Friday.

Between the last campaign finance disclosure period in mid-July and last week, Hochul raised roughly $11.1 million, bringing the total amount of cash she’s raised since taking office last year to $45 million. Hochul is entering the final stretch of the race for her first full term in office with nearly $11 million at her disposal.

In a statement Friday, Hochul campaign spokesperson Jen Goodman said the governor’s fundraising over the past three months has outpaced the $10.1 million she raised over a four-month stretch during the primary.

“Governor Hochul’s extraordinary fundraising efforts once again show her widespread support and momentum heading into the final stretch of the election,” Goodman said. “The stakes of this election couldn’t be higher and the campaign will continue to connect with voters throughout the state, highlighting the governor’s record of delivering results in contrast with Lee Zeldin’s extremism.”

Goodman attributed Hochul’s strong numbers to 60% of her donations coming from those giving $200 or less.

According to reporting from the news site Gothamist, however, the governor’s campaign has benefited greatly from big-dollar donors, including recieving the maximum contribution of $47,000 from 30 individual givers over the past three months. Additionally, some of Hochul’s most deep-pocketed donors include Hollywood bigwigs like Steven Spielberg and real estate developers like Haim Chera – head of retail at Vornado, the firm behind the plan to expand Penn Station.

Hochul has used her considerable campaign cash to blanket the airwaves with ads attacking Zeldin over his close ties to Trump and opposition to abortion in the wake of the June U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe. v. Wade.

While Hochul’s fundraising practices have greatly strengthened her campaign, she’s come under heavy fire from both Zeldin and government watchdogs for taking money from individuals and groups with business before the state. This includes Hochul giving a lucrative $637 million contract for at-home COVID-19 tests to Digital Gadgets, a New Jersey-based company run by Charlie Tebeble, who – along with his relatives – has given roughly $330,000 to Hochul’s campaign.

Meanwhile, Zeldin brought in $6.4 million since mid-July, which brings his total cash-on-hand to $4.5 million. The Long Island congress member has now raised a total of $19.6 million since launching his bid for governor earlier this year, making him the best funded GOP candidate in state history, according to a release from his campaign.

In a statement Friday, Zeldin bashed Hochul for raking in money from those with business before the state, while touting his campaign’s success with raising funds from donors contributing $200 or less.

“Kickback Kathy is desperate to cash in on as many pay-to-play campaign donations as possible, selling access to our government so she can try to cover up her abysmal record on the issues most important to New Yorkers,” Zeldin said. “In stark contrast, 91% of our donations were $200 dollars or less from everyday hardworking New Yorkers, including donations from every county across the state. This is a grassroots movement. We have the issues on our side, we have the momentum on our side and on November 8, we’re going to fire Kathy Hochul and restore New York to glory.”

However, Zeldin’s campaign has also received a significant boost from big-dollar fundraisers over the past few months hosted by Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis

On top of that, Zeldin’s campaign has gotten an assist from a pair of GOP super PACs – Safe Together NY and Save our State NY – mostly funded by the conservative cosmetics heir Ronald Lauder. Together, the PACs have spent $4 million on ads that parrot some of Zeldin’s main attacks on Hochul – that she’s not doing enough to combat high crime or reinvigorate the state economy.

Early voting for the Nov. 8 general election starts Saturday Oct. 9 and runs through Sunday Nov. 6.