Gov. Kathy Hochul hit the airwaves with her first gubernatorial campaign ad on Tuesday — a week after her federally indicted second-in-command stepped down and two months before the Democratic primary.
In the 30-second commercial titled “Hard Work,” Hochul touts her efforts to reduce gun violence, modest state income tax reductions for middle-class New Yorkers and her worth ethic.
“It’s late at night, and a light is on in the governor’s office. Kathy Hochul is hard at work, and it shows,” reads the narrator as the chief executive is shown flipping through papers at a desk. “Since taking office, she’s passed over 400 new bills.”
“She’s cracking down on illegal guns to make our neighborhoods safer,” the commercial continues. “Investing in public schools to hire more teachers and get our kids back on track, and cutting taxes for middle-class families across New York.
“Kathy Hochul, a governor who works as hard as you do,” the advertisement concludes.
Hochul’s campaign — which had nearly $22 million at its disposal as of January, according to state Board of Election filings — had booked $668,000 worth of broadcast TV ads through Monday, according to tracking service AdImpact.
The gov’s ad campaign kicked off seven days after Hochul was handed a massive political headache when Brian Benjamin stepped down as lieutenant governor hours after his indictment in an alleged bribery scheme involving more than $50,000 in illegal donations to his campaigns.
Benjamin’s resignation prompted Democratic Assembly members to push legislation that would disqualify Hochul’s ex-No. 2 from the ballot in the upcoming primary, allowing his replacement with a new candidate to avoid Hochul being tainted by association.
But last week, a Senate Democratic spokesperson quickly shot the proposal down.
If New York lawmakers do not change the state’s election law, the only way for Benjamin to be yanked off the ballot will be for him to move out of the Empire State.
Benjamin — a 45-year-old former state senator representing parts of Harlem who ran unsuccessfully for city comptroller — appeared in federal court Monday, when Judge Paul Oetken gave Benjamin permission to travel to New Jersey.
Benjamin, who is free on a $250,000 bond, was previously granted permission to travel to the federal districts of Eastern Virginia and Northern Georgia, where some of his family members live.
In the June Democratic primary, Hochul will attempt to fend off US Rep. Tom Suozzi from Long Island to her right and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams to her left. Disgraced ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo — whom Hochul succeeded in August following his resignation amid a sexual harassment scandal — has opted not to run in the Democratic primary.
Recent polls show Hochul with a large lead over her Democratic contenders in a Cuomo-free field.
If she wins the June 28 contest, the governor will likely face GOP primary front-runner Rep. Lee Zeldin from Long Island in November’s general election to earn a full term in office.