National News

Cuomo Holds Big Cash Edge in Primary Battle Against Nixon

Posted July 16, 2018 11:27 p.m. EDT

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York enters the final two-month sprint to the Democratic primary with an enormous fundraising advantage, holding $31.1 million in the bank compared with about $660,000 for his challenger, Cynthia Nixon.

Cuomo, who is seeking a third term, raised more than $6 million in the first six months of 2018, but he also spent more than $5 million, according to preliminary figures released by his campaign. He has recently begun buying some television ads in New York City — a luxury that Nixon may have to do without for now.

Nixon has raised more than $1.6 million since she joined the race in March, with much of the money coming from small contributors. Her campaign highlighted the fact that she has received more than 30,500 donations in all.

The latest fundraising figures were due to be filed with the state Board of Elections on Monday. The campaigns released selective summaries of those figures.

Marc Molinaro, the Republican candidate, announced raising $1.1 million with $887,000 cash on hand.

Hayley Prim, Nixon’s campaign manager, said donations had picked up in the last month, citing “the surge of grass-roots energy we’ve felt since Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s victory,” referring to the insurgent challenger who defeated Rep. Joseph Crowley in a Democratic primary last month.

Nixon has made Cuomo’s reliance on big donors a centerpiece of her campaign, and her team pointed out that, in contrast, almost 97 percent of her donations were less than $200.

Cuomo has proved one of the most aggressive fundraisers in the country, with top givers asked to give as much as $25,000 or $50,000 to attend a private dinner at the St. Regis or an evening of Broadway entertainment.

Nixon and Molinaro have both called on Cuomo to return hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations linked to developers who were convicted last week in the bid-rigging trial of Alain E. Kaloyeros, former president of the State University of New York Polytechnic Institute.

Cuomo has said he was speaking to federal authorities about how to proceed.

“Federal prosecutors don’t give such guidance. But former federal prosecutors can — just return the money,” Preet Bharara, the former U.S. attorney in Manhattan, wrote on Twitter.

Cuomo, for the first time, has put a recent emphasis on trying to raise money beyond the world of large contributors. Last year, The New York Times reported that Cuomo had raised nearly 99.9 percent of his funds in recent years from donors who give at least $200.

Now the Cuomo campaign touted that 57 percent of his donations were for $250 or less in the latest filing period. His median contribution in the first half of 2018 was $150; in the first half of 2017, it was $2,500.

Cuomo also gave nearly $400,000 to the state Democratic Party, which he runs and which has aired television ads promoting him. He also contributed the maximum allowable sum — $21,000 — to Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who faces a primary challenge from Jumaane Williams, a New York City councilman.

Hochul announced raising $1.2 million for her race. Williams had not released his figures as of late Monday.