Democrats in tough races across the state are steering clear of Gov. Hochul.
At least five Dems running for Congress who have been endorsed by party colleague Hochul have not only declined to effusively return the favor but even left the governor’s stamp of approval off their own campaign website’s list of endorsements.
“A lot of people have been endorsing me,” said Matt Castelli, a Democrat running in a sprawling district upstate, when asked if he supported Hochul’s endorsement. “I’m excited to have a lot of endorsements from Democrats, Republicans and independents.”
While Hochul has lauded Castelli’s “strong commitment to delivering results,” Castelli, who is fighting an uphill battle to oust GOP Rep. Elise Stefanik, makes no mention of Hochul’s endorsement on his campaign website.
Castelli’s situation is far from unique. In tough races across Long Island and upstate New York, candidates are keeping their distance from Hochul — who is locked in a race with Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin that some polls now say is neck and neck.
In an Aug. 26 press release, Hochul issued her endorsement to a slate of Empire State Democrats running for Congress including Robert Zimmerman, Laura Gillen, Bridget Fleming and Francis Conole. While several have made supportive statements of the governor, none of them have issued their own endorsements of Hochul, and all have left the governor off their own website endorsements pages.
“Lee Zeldin does well in Long Island. Every one of these [people] are looking out for number one. So if they think Kathy Hochul is underwater in their district or if they are even 5% afraid of her being underwater they will do what’s easy and leave her off,” said one well-connected New York Democratic operative — who added none would have dared show similar disrespect to former Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
“He would eat them for breakfast,” he laughed.
The governor’s support wasn’t welcomed by everyone.
“It was clearly self-interested for her to say ‘we’re endorsing’ without considering what it meant for everyone in their various races. A Hochul endorsement isn’t necessarily a good thing,” said one frustrated Democratic staffer in the affected races.
The candidates’ publicly listed endorsers run the gamut from hyper-local pols and unions — but also reflect individual idiosyncrasies.
While Hochul was MIA from Zimmerman’s website, the communications executive running for a seat representing Oyster Bay, Glen Cove, North Hempstead, and a slice of northeastern Queens, managed to find space for Hillary Clinton and former City Council Speaker Corey Johnson.
Conole, running for a seat representing Syracuse and central New York — one of the state’s most competitive races — kept his public endorsements more local, but still managed to find room for Manhattan Rep. Jerry Nadler — an ultra-liberal far outside his district.
“Kathy Hochul’s abysmal record of rising crime, skyrocketing costs, and pay-to-play corruption is making her more and more of a drag on down-ballot Democrats,” Zeldin said.
In statements, both Gillen and Castelli declined to say why Hochul was left off their website. Reps for Zimmerman said their candidate “proudly endorsed” Hochul during her primary and moved to swiftly update their website after The Post’s inquiry.