Gov. Hochul is hoping to be the last woman standing in the 2022 Democratic gubernatorial primary, with her allies banking on a crowded and ugly race to divide her downstate enemies and deliver victory.
“We’ve got three Brooklyn candidates — de Blasio, Williams and Tish — and they’re all going to be pulling the same votes,” said a source, referring to the mayor, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and state Attorney General Letitia James.
“Brooklyn is the center of it all,” the source added. “That’s where the new mayor is from, that’s where the public advocate is from, that’s where the attorney general is from. Brooklyn has been electing leaders in the city and state.”
Hochul has long struggled with black voters in the city.
In 2018 they delivered Brooklyn to Williams by more than 70,000 votes during his spirited challenge to Hochul in the lieutenant governor’s primary that year. Black voters in Harlem helped Williams take Manhattan as well. Hochul won the vast majority of counties outside the five boroughs — but still only managed to eke out a victory.
A new Marist poll showed Hochul dominating her potential rivals in a divided field — though she did not prevail among a majority of those surveyed. Hochul was favored by 44 percent of Democratic voters, while James took a distant 28. Williams was even further behind at 15.
For now, the governor remains the only declared candidate but her opponents have been circling. James’ longtime campaign strategist Luis Miranda has been working the phones trying to rustle up donors. She meanwhile has been talking to consulting shop SKDK on doing a campaign for her. Williams has already formed an exploratory committee. Hizzoner has mused publicly about the idea — though so far he has barely registered in official polling.
“Hochul is the winner today,” longtime Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf told The Post, warning that James would have to contend with large portions of her base who still had favorable feelings toward former Gov. Cuomo.
The disgraced ex-gov — and his $18 million war chest that is still accepting donations — remains yet another X factor.
Primary chaos is welcome news to Republicans in the state, who say they are apt to benefit with Democrats in disarray. The party had been eager to run against a wounded Cuomo, but still harbors hope that a long-shot victory is possible against someone else. The GOP has not occupied the governor’s mansion since George Pataki departed in 2006. Long Island Rep. Lee Zeldin is an early frontrunner and remains the favored candidate of the party establishment. Andrew Giuliani, a former Trump aide and son of ex-mayor Rudy Giuliani, is also gunning for the nomination.
“It’s so important to see what has been the radicalization of the Democrat party. When you look at Jumaane Williams’ ideas and de Blasio’s policies, I think it’s important to have that highlighted in the Democratic primary,” Andrew Giuliani told The Post.
“Hochul is not far behind,” he said.