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By Jacob Henry

(New York Jewish Week) — On Monday, one day before Election Day, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced some $96 million in new funding to help nonprofits beef up security against hate crimes.

Coming amidst increasing concerns over antisemitism, the announcement represented the kind of advantage that an incumbent like Hochul could use to seal the deal with Jewish voters and other targeted minorities.

The same day, the governor was seen on the Upper West Side, campaigning with notable Jewish politicians such as Rep. Jerry Nadler and Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine in the final hours before Election Day.

But incumbency has its limits, even for a Democratic candidate in a blue state with a gaggle of Jewish political supporters. Hochul is facing a surprisingly strong challenge from Rep. Lee Zeldin, the Long Island Republican who has been hammering her hard on crime and the economy.


Hochul has also gained grudging support from Jewish groups seen as to the left of NYJA, who in turn hope Hochul appreciates the progressives who have campaigned for her.

Rachel McCullough, political director of Jews for Racial & Economic Justice, told the New York Jewish Week that the progressive group first began working with Hochul when she was lieutenant governor on a campaign called Fair Pay for Home Care. It focused on giving raises to homecare workers, who are employed by many Jewish families.

“She herself had been a caregiver and currently is a caregiver for her father who has Parkinson’s disease,” McCullough said. “She had a reputation for being very hard-working and being out there on the trail. People always had positive interactions with her.”

McCullough said that she hopes Hochul will recognize that if she is reelected, it will be largely “thanks to the efforts of the progressive movement, specifically the Working Families Party.” While Hochul will be on the Democratic Party line on Tuesday’s ballot, she’s also running on the progressive Working Families Party line.

McCullough said she “was not happy” with some of Hochul’s stances on bail reform and the Buffalo Bills stadium deal. Despite Zeldin’s efforts to portray Hochul as an uncritical champion of efforts to eliminate cash bail, the governor signed on to a budget in April that strengthened bail restrictions and tightened rules for repeat offenders. Progressives also said a $600 million deal for the NFL team came at the expense of spending on the social safety net.

Nevertheless, McCullough said her group is “working overtime” to reelect Hochul.

“We’re really clear that we have to defeat Lee Zeldin,” McCullough said.

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