Hochul rolling in cash, reports $12 million in campaign cash, as Zeldin loses additional ballot line

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ALBANY — Gov. Hochul has just under $12 million cash in her campaign coffers as she prepares for November’s general election against Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin.

Hochul’s campaign released top line numbers ahead of Friday’s mid-summer filing deadline showing the Democrat has pulled in more than $34 million in donations since assuming office last summer.

In total, the governor, seeking a full term in office after replacing disgraced former governor Andrew Cuomo last summer, has $11.7 million remaining after pulling in an additional $2 million over the past month, according to her campaign.

“With the campaign ramping up for the general election, Governor Hochul’s strong war chest demonstrates her widespread support and ability to build a winning coalition,” campaign spokeswoman Jen Goodman said in a statement. “The campaign will continue to use its resources to show voters how Lee Zeldin’s dangerous, far-right agenda would put families and communities at risk, dragging our state backward.”

Hochul cruised to victory in last month’s Democratic primary, setting up a Nov. 8 showdown with Zeldin, who had just $2 million in his campaign account ahead of the June GOP contest.

The Long Island lawmaker’s campaign also hit a snag this week after he was denied an additional general election ballot line for the Independence Party due to bogus signatures.

New York’s fusion voting system allows candidates to appear on multiple party lines.

However, the state Board of Elections determined that nearly 13,000 of the 52,000 signatures filed for Zeldin and the rest of the Republican slate under the Independence banner were invalid, Newsday first reported.

The GOP candidates failed to gather the 45,000 signatures required to revive the Independence line for the November election.

Zeldin’s petitions were challenged by the officials from the New York Libertarian Party, who found that more than 900 sheets, containing over 11,000 signatures, were photocopies.

“Republicans talk a lot about election integrity, but the Zeldin campaign attempted to fly under the radar and submit over 11,000 fraudulent signatures in an attempt to get a third line on the ballot,” Andrew Kolstee, secretary of the Libertarian Party, said in a statement.

“The Zeldin campaign’s attempt to defraud the electorate and pose as an independent campaign by filing thousands of photocopied signatures is a slap in the face to New York State voters and the election process.”

In 2020, New York increased the threshold to secure an automatic ballot spot, making it harder for third parties to remain relevant in the state.

Zeldin and his lieutenant governor running mate, former NYPD deputy inspector Alison Esposito, will still appear on both the GOP and Conservative Party lines.

Zeldin spokeswoman Katie Vincentz told Newsday that there was little time to review the signature petitions before they were collected from across the state and submitted to election officials.

“Being nearly an entirely grassroots effort, we haven’t reviewed all of the petitions nor the specific objections associated with them,” she said. “In the final few days leading up to the filing deadline, tens of thousands of signatures from all over the state had to be immediately turned into the Board of Elections.”

Zeldin, a vocal supporter of former president Donald Trump, voted against the certification of President Joe Biden’s electoral votes following the 2020 election and frequently repeated Trump’s discredited claims of fraud.