Gov. Hochul Stockpiles Donations, as Rivals Struggle to Keep Pace

ALBANY, N.Y. — In the final stretch of the primary race for New York governor, the incumbent, Kathy Hochul, has widened her already formidable fund-raising lead over both Democratic and Republican rivals, scooping up millions from lobbyists, wealthy New Yorkers and special interest groups with a stake in policy outcomes in Albany.

Ms. Hochul pulled in more than $10 million from mid-January to late May, outpacing her nearest Democratic competitor, Representative Thomas R. Suozzi, by about a 3-to-1 margin, according to new filings released on Friday. A third Democratic candidate, the New York City public advocate, Jumaane Williams, raised just $250,000 during the period and was left with only $130,000 in the bank at the end of the month.

On the Republican side, Representative Lee Zeldin, a Long Island conservative, led his rivals with $3.2 million raised. Harry Wilson, a businessman who said he intended to mostly self-fund his campaign, reported just under $2 million in contributions; he also dipped into his personal fortune to blanket the airwaves with TV ads.

Thanks to his considerable wealth, Mr. Wilson had more money to spend — $4.2 million — than any challenger to Ms. Hochul. But the governor’s $18.6 million war chest, eye-poppingly fat even after she spent $13 million (mostly on TV and online ads) in the last four months, puts her in the driver’s seat in a state that hasn’t elected a Republican governor since 2002.

Jumaane Williams, the New York City public advocate, badly trails his Democratic rivals in fund-raising efforts.Credit…Libby March for The New York Times

The power of incumbency

As Ms. Hochul was helping decide how to spend $220 billion of the state’s money, she raked in cash from every corner of the economy just as — or shortly after — the state budget negotiations were taking place.

Eleven donors gave the maximum $69,700 in the latest report — from organized labor groups such as the American Dream Fund service workers union and the Transport Workers Union, to major corporate givers like John Hess, chief executive of the Hess Corporation, and Manhattan real estate developers like Jack and Michael Cayre.

All told, 84 percent of the haul came in chunks of $5,000 or more, records show. The campaign noted that 70 percent of the donations came from contributors giving $250 or less, signaling Ms. Hochul’s “broad coalition of supporters.”

Few were more generous than lobbyists registered with the state to influence lawmakers at the Capitol — on everything from cannabis regulation to education policy and funding.

Many of the lobbyists who donated to Ms. Hochul soon after she was sworn in last summer re-upped with contributions once her first legislative session began. The firm Featherstonhaugh, Wiley & Clyne, whose clients include Saratoga Casino Holdings and the Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, gave Ms. Hochul $25,000 about a month after she took office and then another $25,000 a few weeks into her first session.

The Albany lobbying firm Ostroff Associates and its partners have showered $78,000 on Ms. Hochul since she became governor, and Shenker, Russo & Clark, which represents banking and auto dealer interests, among others, just chipped in another $5,000 after giving Ms. Hochul $20,000 in October.

“Follow the money, and none of it leads to addressing the crime and affordability crisis in our state,” said Kim Devlin, a senior adviser to Mr. Suozzi.

Representative Thomas R. Suozzi raised far more than one of his Democratic rivals, Jumaane Williams, but far less than Ms. Hochul.Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

Mining for Hochul’s approval

With controversy swirling over the expansion of cryptocurrency mining in New York, where aging industrial facilities and cheap electricity have lured major players in the sector, a single five-figure donation to Ms. Hochul stands out: $40,000 from Ashton Soniat, the chief executive of Coinmint, according to the company’s website.

The company has a crypto-mining operation on the grounds of a former aluminum plant in Massena, N.Y., a small town northeast of Niagara Falls. Environmentalists have raised alarms about the high electricity consumption of crypto mining and its potential contribution to climate change. Crypto speculators have been drawn to northern and western New York because of its abundant hydroelectric power.

Coinmint did not respond to requests for comment sent through its website and to email addresses and phone numbers listed in business directories and state records.

Ms. Hochul’s campaign reported that she received the donation from Mr. Soniat, via credit card, on May 23. A day later, Ms. Hochul, during a breakfast with legislators at the governor’s mansion in Albany, spoke optimistically about the potential job creation bonanza in the economically distressed area.

“We have to balance the protection of the environment, but also protect the opportunity for jobs that go to areas that don’t see a lot of activity and make sure that the energy that’s consumed by these entities is managed properly,” Ms. Hochul told reporters after the breakfast meeting.

Assemblywoman Anna R. Kelles, a Democrat who represents the Ithaca area, said Ms. Hochul told her the state can’t ignore the jobs crypto mining in Massena could bring. Ms. Kelles said Ms. Hochul told her, “I spoke to them and they said they employ about 140 people and they are looking to go up to 400 employees in an area where there are very few industries. So this is really important.”

Ms. Kelles is the sponsor of a bill that would put a two-year moratorium on certain crypto-mining operations that rely on fossil fuels, legislation that Ms. Hochul said she would consider once a final version reaches her desk.

“Political donations have no influence on government decisions,” said Hazel Crampton-Hays, a Hochul spokeswoman. “Governor Hochul approaches every decision through one lens: What is best for New Yorkers.”

Gov. Hochul, right, with Vice President Kamala Harris, before a memorial service for a victim of the racist massacre in Buffalo.Credit…Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

Real estate stands firm with Hochul

On April 18, Governor Hochul joined the real estate developer Scott Rechler and Mayor Eric Adams to hail the opening of a publicly accessible rooftop in an office development on a pier in the city- and state-controlled Hudson River Park. In the ensuing month, Mr. Rechler, the chief executive of RXR, and his wife, Deborah Rechler, gave a combined $85,600 to the campaign this filing period. Both are Nassau County constituents of Mr. Suozzi, a Long Island congressman who is running to the right of Ms. Hochul.

Big real estate donors have a habit of sticking with politically moderate incumbents they perceive to be doing a decent job. This year appears no different. Ms. Hochul, the incumbent in question, has continued to haul in donations from landlords and developers.

Jerry Speyer, the chairman of Tishman Speyer, which owns Rockefeller Center, donated $50,000 to Ms. Hochul’s campaign in April. Donald Capoccia, the managing principal of Brooklyn-based developer BFC Partners, donated $25,000. James L. Dolan, who controls Madison Square Garden — which sits atop the Penn Station Ms. Hochul is renovating — donated $69,700.

“In the real estate business, you’re only as strong as the communities where you’re doing business,” Mr. Rechler, who used to be one of former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s biggest donors, said in a statement. “Governor Hochul recognizes that to build stronger communities you need to invest in infrastructure, focus on quality of life and prioritize public safety.”

Suozzi releases his tax return

On the day that candidates for governor faced a deadline to release fund-raising information, Mr. Suozzi chose to also make his tax return available to reporters. On both counts, Mr. Suozzi trails the governor.

Ms. Hochul and her husband, William J. Hochul Jr., reported a joint taxable income of $825,000 this year, more than twice the combined income of Mr. Suozzi and his wife.

Mr. Hochul, a high-ranking executive at Delaware North, a hospitality company and state concessionaire, earned the bulk of the couple’s income: $547,434 from his job at Delaware North. The $363,494 in joint taxable income from Mr. Suozzi and his wife, Helene Suozzi, includes $152,645 in wages — a vast majority of it from Mr. Suozzi’s congressional salary — and $136,339 in capital gains.

The Suozzis have a smattering of investments, including a rental office property in Glen Cove, N.Y., that garnered $18,360 in rental income in 2021, and an investment in a Southampton day camp, which earned them $12,677 in passive income.

The Suozzis donated $38,097 to charity. The Hochuls donated $72,153, and paid $237,916 in federal taxes, or 29 percent of their income. The Suozzis paid $70,018, a federal tax rate of 19 percent.

In the latest fund-raising disclosures, Mr. Suozzi reported raising $3.5 million and transferred a little less than $400,000 from his congressional account, leaving him with $2.7 million in the bank.

Andrew Giuliani has raised the least money among the Republican candidates for governor.Credit…Cindy Schultz for The New York Times

Giuliani has name recognition, but few donors

Andrew Giuliani may have his father’s name recognition going for him, but in the race for money, he is badly lagging the New York Republican Party’s anointed candidate for governor.

Mr. Giuliani raised just a little over $220,000 from donors this filing period, with no individual donations greater than $25,000, according to state campaign finance records. He has a bit more than $300,000 on hand. Mr. Giuliani performed worse, financially, than all three of his Republican rivals, even if some polling suggests he may be leading among voters.

Rob Astorino, the former Westchester County executive, raised about $600,000 this period, leaving him with more than $1.1 million on hand. Mr. Zeldin, the party-backed candidate, raised a little over $3 million, leaving him with roughly that same amount to spend in the final weeks of the primary race. Mr. Wilson, a wealthy Wall Street trader who nearly won the race for state comptroller in 2010, raised more than $10 million this period, most of it from himself.

“The unparalleled outpouring of grass-roots support from every corner of our state has only grown stronger,” Mr. Zeldin said in a statement. “In November, New Yorkers are going to restore a balance of power to Albany.”

Dana Rubinstein reported from New York, and Luis Ferré-Sadurní contributed reporting from New York.