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Democratic primary rivals of Gov. Kathy Hochul haven’t posed much of a challenge

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Instead, Williams took another run at statewide office. Four years ago, he ran against Hochul when she was Andrew Cuomo’s lieutenant governor. At the time, Hochul was a little-known politician from the Buffalo area riding the coattails of Cuomo’s juggernaut. She won, but by less than 10 points, convincing Williams and the Working Families Party she would be vulnerable if he ran again.

The problem was that Williams and the Working Families Party, the left-wing third party made up of activist groups and a number of labor unions, never assembled a viable campaign infrastructure to take on Hochul. The new governor, who took over for Cuomo after he resigned in disgrace in August 2021, quickly tapped his old donors to amass a huge campaign war chest. Hochul has raised more than $20 million and has been flooding New York with TV and digital ads. Much of this was inevitable—a New York governor who is also a competent politician will raise money quickly—and the professional left appeared to have little in the way of an answer to this heavy spending.

Like Suozzi, Williams appears slated to go down in defeat, despite his demographic advantages and obvious charisma. He is not raising nearly enough money, with less than $200,000 in the bank as of a few weeks ago. While he has faced serious personal challenges—his wife was diagnosed with cancer and he offered to drop out of the race, according to The New York Times—the Working Families Party has not stepped in to buoy his campaign. For an institutional left that has competed statewide before, there is just no good reason for Williams to be coming into a primary with so little cash. It speaks, ultimately, to a lack of organization and political will.

The lieutenant governor’s race offers more hope. Ana Maria Archila, a high-profile activist, was recruited into the race in March to take on Hochul’s damaged running mate, Brian Benjamin. Benjamin resigned after being indicted on corruption charges and Archila, who is a close ally of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s, appeared to have a clear shot at a primary victory. Hochul, however, had the state Legislature change the election law so Benjamin could be dumped from the ballot and replaced with Antonio Delgado, a congressman from the Hudson Valley. Delgado has run a low-ke, unimpressive campaign thus far, but he banked more than $2 million and has won competitive elections before. Archila has her work cut out for her.

If Delgado easily brushes away Archila, it’s worth asking why she entered the race so late. Had she spent months in 2021 raising money and building up name recognition, even Delgado may have been beatable. Instead, she’s an underdog, and the Hochul-Delgado ticket may feel little reason to fear the left in the near future. Top priorities like good cause eviction and legislation to create new sources of renewable energy may die on the vine again. Elections always have consequences.


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