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Hochul raking in campaign cash despite new limits

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(The Center Square) — New York Gov. Kathy Hochul is raking in campaign cash for herself and the Democratic Party, despite new state limits on contributions to gubernatorial campaigns.

Hochul, a Democrat, announced that she raised over $6 million from January through mid-July of this year, including more than $4.5 million in contributions to Friends for Kathy Hochul and more than $1.5 million for the New York State Democratic Party as it gears up for the 2024 elections. Hochul has $4.3 million in the bank.

“I am grateful for the outpouring of support that we have received in our first full term as governor,” she said in a statement. We are working hard to make New York a place where families are safe and secure, where small businesses and workers are protected, and where our children can grow and thrive. Clearly, we have overwhelming support for that vision.”

Hochul touted her “unprecedented” fundraising help for the state party, which comes as New York Democrats gear up to regain seats they lost to Republicans in the 2022 midterm elections.

“This essential investment is unprecedented and will kickstart that work, and will complement the great efforts of Senator Gillibrand and Leader Jeffries as we fight to elect Democrats up and down the ballot,” she said. “And we’re just getting started.”

Hochul’s fundraising haul, less than previous New York governors have raised during similar off-cycle periods, is impressive given new limits on campaign limits that cap contributions to gubernatorial campaigns at $18,000.

A former Erie County clerk and lieutenant governor, Hochul was appointed to the top post in August 2021 after disgraced Gov. Andrew Cuomo stepped down amid sexual harassment claims.

In the November 2022 elections, Hochul won a full term after defeating Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin in one of the closest New York gubernatorial elections in decades, making history as the state’s first elected female governor. It would be in the 2026 elections if she seeks another four-year term.

The latest fundraising number suggests Hochul remains popular within the state’s Democratic Party, despite recent polls showing that her overall favorability has slumped.

During her recent campaign, Hochul faced accusations of pay-to-play arrangements with campaign donors with business before the state government. Good government groups have also criticized her for sending out fundraising pitches earlier this year during a tense budget standoff with fellow Democrats, who control the state Legislature.

A review of Hochul’s latest campaign finance disclosures shows many of the contributions in the past six months come from lawyers, unions, lobbyists and developers who traditionally open up their checkbooks for the state’s top elected officials during off-cycle election periods. But she also received several small contributions from $2 to $150 from individual donors.

Records show that some contributors maxed out the $18,000 gubernatorial contribution limit for the current election cycle.

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