Governor Andrew Cuomo raised more than $2 million between January and July of 2021, his campaign reports.
Cuomo, who entered into the race with almost $17 million, is facing both advantages and disadvantages as a fourth-term incumbent.
First, most of this money is rolled over from past campaigns, leaving Cuomo facing down the fall with almost $18 million cash on hand. However, Cuomo really did not start fundraising until June, whether that was by choice or not.
The first part of the year, Cuomo was plagued by scandals ranging from an attorney general’s nursing home report which showed that the Cuomo administration undercounted COVID-19-related nursing home deaths, and numerous sexual harassment allegations. Cuomo has denied all allegations.
The “frontrunner” Republican candidate in the race for governor, chosen by the GOP county chairs across the state in a straw poll, is Congressman Lee Zeldin, who walked into the race with about $2.5 million. His campaign reports that from January to July, his campaign raised $4 million, and he now has around $3 million cash on hand.
“Voters don't actually care about how much money you have, but what voters do care about is whether they see your ad, and whether your ad influences their decision to vote,” said Morgan Hook, a Democratic strategist and senior vice president at SKDKnickerbocker. “So, in terms of getting name recognition with voters, whatever these filing numbers say, that doesn't matter where it is important is when you're talking to party elites and sort of opinion to lead people and determine whether your campaign should be taken seriously and right out of the gate. If you have a poor showing for your fundraising numbers, then you're telling that group of people ‘I shouldn't be taken seriously.’ ”
Zeldin on Thursday said he “suspects” this filing period will be the lowest amount going forward. Zeldin is expected to also appear with former President Donald Trump at a fundraiser on August 5 for the state Republican Party.
“This is actually the lowest slowest pace that we'll have. As far as our fundraising, when you see our report come out, this isn't the best of it,” Zeldin said. “It's only going to increase; there are people who donated $1,000 who said that they are looking forward to donating more over the course of the campaign.”