The congressman’s haul easily outpaced the roughly $2.5 million embattled three-term Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo raised during the first six months of the year.
Zeldin, a staunch ally of former President Trump and a four-term lawmaker who represents the state’s 1st Congressional District in the eastern half of Long Island, announced his candidacy on April 8 during an appearance on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends,” and quickly raised in $1 million in his first day as a gubernatorial candidate.
Zeldin’s team reported on Thursday that the congressman, who’s been busily campaigning across New York State the past three and a half months, received contributions from over 9,000 donors from all 62 of the state’s counties. The spotlighted Zeldin’s grassroots fundraising, saying that 94% of the total 12,500 donations were $250 or less.
“Over the last 3 months, together, we have built a groundswell of grassroots support from every corner of our state, filled with New Yorkers who believe we have what it takes to Fire Andrew Cuomo in 2022. Now, we have more support than ever before to prove it,” Zeldin wrote in a statement.
And he highlighted that “since announcing our campaign, we have gone full speed, pedal to the metal, every single day, visiting every county in New York, and, the best part is, this is the lowest gear we have. We’re not slowing down until Election Day 2022, when we end Andrew Cuomo’s reign and restore New York to glory.”
While Zeldin significantly outraised Cuomo so far this year, the governor still has a large cash on hand advantage over his main Republican challenger. The governor’s campaign reported on Thursday that they had $18.5 million in their coffers, far more than the $3.198 million Zeldin’s team announced.
Cuomo, who saw his political standing surge last year amid the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, has been politically wounded – as he faces a state investigation into numerous sexual harassment allegations from former staffers. And the governor is also facing a federal probe into whether his administration covered up the COVID deaths of nursing home residents amid the pandemic
Cuomo won reelection in 2018 by nearly 25 points in the solidly blue state of New York. But only a third of voters questioned in a Siena College survey conducted late last month said Cuomo should run for reelection next year, with 39% saying he should serve out his term but not seek another four years steering the Empire State, and 23% saying Cuomo should resign immediately.
Cuomo earlier this year faced a chorus of calls to resign, with more than 135 state lawmakers and nearly the entire congressional delegation from New York – including Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand – urging Cuomo to step down.
The governor has been resisting those calls as he continues to emphasize that people should wait for the results of the attorney general’s investigation before making up their minds and passing judgment. While he has apologized for making some women uncomfortable, he’s denied that he ever inappropriately touched a woman. And Cuomo has criticized some of his accusers who have gone public amid the ongoing investigations of allegations of sexual misconduct, arguing they have impacted the fairness of the process by speaking out.
New York doesn’t have gubernatorial limits, and Cuomo said in May of 2019 that he would run in 2022 for a fourth term. But the governor’s yet to formally confirm or announce that he’s seeking another term in office.