Gov. Andrew Cuomo has always been a prodigious fundraiser, but the $64,000 in contributions he's received over the years from President Donald Trump is drawing scrutiny. Cuomo last received the money from Trump in 2009 and he has no plans to give it back or give it away.
“No. No, not at all. I'm going to be deeply critical of him and keep the contribution,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo has been blistering in his criticism of Trump. But supporters of his primary rival, Cynthia Nixon, say it goes to a broader point about who pays for the governor's campaigns.
“It gives the power over who gets elected and what they do once they get into office to people who give the most money. In New York, that's mostly real estate and Wall Street,” said Karen Scharff, Citizen Action executive director.
WFP-Co Chair Karen Scharff says the massive fundraising for the governor gives Cuomo an advantage over his challengers.
“Money still does matter when you've got $40, $50 million, it allows him to saturate the airwaves and have a massive operation,” said Scharff.
And on Monday, Cuomo released yet another TV ad that highlights his support for abortion rights.
Nixon, meanwhile, has sought to target small-dollar donors. Her campaign on Sunday highlighted her support for marijuana legalization, giving away a bong to those who donate — a contest that was criticized by clergy members. But the contest highlights Nixon's need for campaign dollars, too.
“She has to keep raising money in order to offset the fact she has to spend it in order to have a credible campaign,” said Blair Horner, New York Public Interest Research Group legislative director.
But ultimately, the winner of the September 13 primary could come down to whose voters are more excited.
“Money matters and motivation matters, and so who has the most motivated voters could make a big difference in September,” said Horner.
Cuomo in January reported nearly $30 million in cash on hand and has held multiple fundraisers in the last six months.