New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s re-election campaign spent more than twice as much money in the last four weeks fending off a primary challenge by ‘Sex and the City’ actress Cynthia Nixon than they did during the same period in 2014, when a similar left-flank challenger emerged.
In 2014, when Cuomo was challenged by Fordham Law Professor Zephyr Teachout, the governor’s campaign spent less than $3.2 million between mid-July and mid-August, far less than the nearly $7.5 million Cuomo’s campaign is currently spending in staving off Nixon.
Cuomo, who is facing a tougher-than-anticipated challenge from Nixon, still has $24.4 million heading into next month’s primary, campaign disclosures released Tuesday show.
While most of the money spent by the Cuomo campaign in the past month, $5.4 million, was used to place television ads, a considerable amount was spent on charitable donations using funds the governor had previously set aside because they were tied to corruption charges of one of his top aides and a top government official.
Disclosure records show that on Monday, the governor’s campaign withdrew $422,000 of $534,000 that was placed in escrow in December 2016 and made 16 donations to organizations, including the National Institute for Reproductive Health and Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts. The governor also made several donations between $18,000 and $25,000 to immigrant rights organizations and groups focused on relief efforts in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria in 2017.
Cuomo, who has raised substantial amounts from Puerto Rico bondholders, made his fifth trip to Puerto Rico last month. The trips to Puerto Rico have their political benefits. New York is home to the largest Puerto Rican population outside of the island, totalling more than a million people, according to the 2010 census. Showing solidarity with the island and aiding in rebuilding efforts could help Cuomo secure the vote of the Puerto Rican population.
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Cuomo and Nixon raised nearly identical amounts this past month. Cuomo reported $393,000 in contributions over the last month, while Nixon reported slightly below that amount at $391,000.
The bulk of the contributions made to the Cuomo campaign were donations of $250 or less, but money from small donors still accounted for a miniscule amount of his overall haul over the last four weeks. Cuomo’s small donor contributions totalled 1.26 percent, up from the 1.09 percent reported in mid-July, which was marred by instances where it appears that the Cuomo campaign was padding its small-donor figures with allies, relatives and spouses of members of the Cuomo administration and campaign.
Cuomo’s largest donation came from John Petry, the founder of hedge fund Sessa Capital and a charter school supporter, who donated $45,100.
Meanwhile, Nixon has continued to rely on small donors. Of the 1,192 donations she received from individuals, 1,086 were of $250 or less. Of the nearly $204,000 contributed by individuals, roughly $134,500 were contributions of more than $250. Nixon’s single largest donor was fellow actress Kyra Sedgwick, who donated $10,000 to Nixon’s campaign.
Nixon heads into next month’s primary with nearly $442,000 on hand.