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Real Estate Cash Flows To Zeldin As Hochul’s Lead Shrinks

As New York Gov. Kathy Hochul’s lead over Republican challenger Lee Zeldin has narrowed, more donations from some of real estate’s biggest names have made their way to Zeldin’s campaign coffers.

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Gov. Kathy Hochul at the REBNY ceremony

Polling from Siena College now puts Zeldin just 11 percentage points behind Hochul, while FiveThirtyEight has an even narrower gap of 7.9%. Consequently, the tightening race has seen an increasing number of commercial real estate’s biggest names writing checks to Zeldin.

Former Wynn Resorts CEO Steve Wynn and his wife, Andrea, both donated almost $75K to Zeldin's campaign at the start of this month. Billionaire investor Carl Icahn gave the Republican candidate $25K on Oct. 14, and Harlan Crow, the chairman of Crow Holdings and son of the late Trammell Crow, donated $25K last week.

Industry figures typically donate to both sides of political races, and Hochul’s overall $46M in campaign donations have dwarfed Zeldin’s $16M, but the Republican candidate has drawn donations in recent weeks from some of the governor's prior big-name CRE backers, Commercial Observer reports.

Moinian Group CEO Joseph Moinian has donated $52K to Hochul, but he has put $12,500 toward Zeldin's campaign in two donations in August and September, according to state campaign finance records.

Vornado’s head of retail, Haim Chera, the son of late Crown Acquisitions founder Stanley Chera, donated $69K to Hochul last year, according to campaign finance records. Chera also gave $30K to Zeldin’s campaign in September, while his mother, Frieda, gave $45K, according to state records.

Stephen Meringoff, managing partner at Himmel + Meringoff Properties, donated just over $47K to Zeldin last month after pitching in $12,500 to Friends for Kathy Hochul last year. H.J. Kalikow & Co. President Peter Kalikow donated $74,539 to Zeldin through a political action committee, compared to nearly $4K to Hochul last month.

Hochul’s weakened lead over Zeldin is significant, Republican political strategist Susan Del Percio told Commercial Observer.

“New York should be a 20-point race. She should be beating him 60 [to] 40 at least,” she said. “Whether you think it’s a four-point race or a nine-point race, the fact that it’s [not] double digits is very significant.” 

Hochul has continued to bring in large donations from real estate figures, including $100K combined last week from Peter Palazzo, Bruce Berg and Kylie Cappelli, all affiliated with Westchester County developer The Cappelli Organization, according to state records. CCNA Realty LLC and Thethi Realty LLC, two Yonkers-based real estate businesses, gave Hochul $5K each last week.