Hochul lands biggest gubernatorial field booty of 2022

ALBANY, NY (AP) — Governor Kathy Hochul has raised nearly $22 million for her campaign trail, a whopping sum that gives her a dominating advantage over a small number of opponents in the Democratic primary.

Hochul’s loot, raised in just five months, eclipsed his closest competitors among Democrats and Republicans, according to campaign finance documents from multiple candidates on Tuesday.

U.S. Representative Tom Suozzi, a Democrat representing Long Island, brought in $5.4 million in campaign money for his run against Hochul. New York City public attorney Jumaane Williams, the most liberal of the leading gubernatorial candidates, has just $222,000 on hand.

On the Republican side, U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin, a conservative representing the eastern tip of Long Island, brought in $5.6 million for his gubernatorial campaign. Andrew Giuliani, the son of former Republican New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, brought home a campaign war chest of $188,400.

Hochul has won both donations and endorsements from many of the state’s most influential unions, legislators and advocacy groups.

His strong performance early in the race has already ousted potential contenders for the nomination. Attorney General Letitia James has withdrawn from the race and former New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced this week that he will not run.

Still, Suozzi vowed to issue a serious challenge to Hochul.

He criticized Hochul on issues of public order, saying he wanted to reverse parts of a sweeping bail reform that made it easier for nonviolent defendants to stay free while awaiting trial.

He also called for an attorney general’s investigation into Hochul’s use of state planes to attend political fundraisers.

In terms of total cash, Hochul’s closest rival is former Governor Andrew Cuomo, who declared $16 million in campaign funds in mid-January.

Cuomo had long planned to run for office but resigned in August amid allegations of sexual harassment and an impending impeachment trial.

An investigation released by James’s office last year found Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women, including former aides who said he touched them inappropriately and made unwelcome sexual remarks.

The former governor denied ever assaulting anyone or intending to offend anyone. He also said he did not recall touching the stomach of a female soldier in his security service.

And last February, Cuomo said he was “truly sorry” for behavior “misconstrued as unwanted flirting.”

It’s unclear if he could ever attempt a comeback. Cuomo has not outright said he will not run for governor in 2022. His attorney, Rita Glavin, was evasive when asked by reporters about Cuomo’s political ambitions.

In the meantime, Cuomo has kept staff on his payroll to fight for his reputation. He used his lawyer Glavin to organize regular Zoom calls attacking the integrity of accusers and investigators.

The Albany District Attorney announced this month that he would not prosecute Cuomo over a woman’s allegation that he fondled his chest. An Albany judge later dismissed that charge.

Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi said Cuomo may seek reimbursement for his legal fees as a result of the dismissal. Azzopardi said he didn’t know if Cuomo would.

Cuomo could still face civil lawsuits from some of the women who accused him of sexual harassment. Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi said Cuomo would “not pay a dime for attempted civil extortion.”

Still, Cuomo faces a tight deadline if he chooses to run this year, and would likely have to do so without help from the Democratic Party establishment.

A poll taken last fall indicated that his support among potential voters plummeted after the harassment allegations, though he retained some support among Democrats.

Cuomo could also use his campaign war chest to boost other candidates. Azzopardi said Wednesday he had no details on how Cuomo’s campaign money would be used.

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