Governor Andrew Cuomo is making virtual appearances at nine fundraising events for Democratic state Senate candidates this election year as the conference seeks to expand its majority in the chamber.
Today alone, Cuomo is scheduled to appear at three different fundraising events for Democratic incumbents Jim Gaughran and Anna Kaplan on Long Island, as well as Karen Smythe in the Hudson Valley.
On Tuesday, Cuomo will be a featured guest for Samra Brouk, who is running for an open seat in Rochester area, along with events for senators Monica Martinez and Kevin Thomas, seeking re-election to battleground districts on Long Island.
On October 29, the governor is helping out Senator Peter Harckham, a freshman Democrat who faces a well-funded challenge from Cuomo's 2014 Republican rival, Rob Astorino.
Tickets for some of these virtual events top $11,000. Cuomo, a national figure amid the coronavirus pandemic this year, is a likely draw for Democratic donors even if the buffet line is replaced with a Zoom call.
The Democratic conference two years ago captured majority control of the chamber for the first time in a decade after Republicans held power or shared it with a bloc of breakaway Democrats for most of Cuomo's time in office.
During this time, Cuomo has fended off criticism he hasn't done enough to help his own party win control of the chamber and that he preferred GOP influence to play off the large Democratic majority in the state Assembly.
This year control of the Senate will hinge on a handful of races in the Hudson Valley, as well as on Long Island.
Democrats in the Senate this year are likely poised to keep their majority, but the bigger question in Albany has been whether the conference will capture a supermajorty, allowing them enough seats to override any gubernatorial vetoes.
Cuomo and his allies have countered this with noting the policy agenda of Democratic legislators in Albany has been broadly his policy agenda as well, including a menu of criminal justice law changes approved earlier this year -- making any such parlor talk about veto overrides largely moot.
Still, some Democrats and advocates have grumbled -- not so privately -- about the effort by Ronald Lauder, who is showing a sudden interest in the state Senate that could deny the party a supermajority.
The billionaire cosmetics heir and a past campaign donor to the governor is fueling what is now a $4.5 million effort to help Republicans in key swing districts. The money is providing a boost to GOP candidates through an independent expenditure committee that is helping closing a money gap for the two parties.