Incumbent New York Governor Kathy Hochul’s lead in the gubernatorial race is narrowing, and major real estate players are ramping up donations to her Republican challenger, Lee Zeldin, a congressman from Long Island. Recent polling from Siena College puts Zeldin just 11 percentage points behind Hochul, and FiveThirtyEight shows an even tighter gap of 7.9 percent.
Since the 1980s, New York has been a blue state where Democratic governors typically win by around 20 percentage points, so the narrowing polls are significant and a cause for concern for Hochul and Democrats everywhere. Business figures usually donate to both sides of political races to protect their interests, and Hochul has many big-name real estate backers as well. Governer Hochul’s $46 million campaign war chest also dwarfs Zeldin’s $16 million, but as the race has narrowed, Zeldin has seen an uptick in donations from the real estate industry.
For example, former Wynn Resorts CEO Steve Wynn and his wife, Andrea, both donated nearly $75,000 to Zeldin’s campaign at the start of October. Billionaire investor Carl Icahn also gave Zeldin $25,000 on October 14th. Real estate figures who have commented on their donations to Zeldin have said crime and public safety are their biggest concerns. Crime has been a hot topic in New York City and nationwide this year, and Republicans everywhere have focused on it in their campaigns. Even if Zeldin doesn’t get the big upset win in the race, he’ll walk away with some powerful friends in the real estate industry.