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Hochul holds wide lead in race for governor, as de Blasio drops out of race

Gov. Kathy Hochul, wearing navy blue and white pearls, stands at a podium with state seal, in front of a U.S. flag.
Mike Groll
Office of the Governor
Gov. Kathy Hochul presents the Fiscal Year 2023 Executive Budget in the Red Room at the State Capitol Tuesday.

Gov. Kathy Hochul holds a sizable lead in this year’s race for governor, according to a new poll from Siena College, and that margin could grow after former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said he wouldn’t run for the office on Tuesday.

Hochul would win support from nearly half of registered Democrats in a hypothetical primary race if it were held today, the poll said, collecting 46% of the vote. The same poll showed de Blasio with 12% of the vote, New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams with 11% of the vote, and Rep. Tom Suozzi with 6% of the vote.

“With 22 weeks until the primary, it appears Hochul is in the catbird seat to be the Democratic nominee for governor,” said Siena College pollster Steve Greenberg.

Registered voters across the political spectrum placed Hochul’s favorability rating at 45%, though a quarter either didn’t know her or had no opinion. But Hochul’s numbers now have a new chance to grow after de Blasio said on Tuesday that he wouldn’t challenge her for the Democratic nomination. That leaves Williams and Suozzi as Hochul’s competitors in the primary.

In a video posted to Twitter, de Blasio said he wouldn’t join the campaign, but that he wasn’t going anywhere.

“I am not going to be running for governor of New York state,” de Blasio said. “But I am going to devote every fiber of my being to fight inequality in the state of New York.”

Hochul also said Tuesday that she’s raised $21.6 million for her campaign for governor since she announced in August. Suozzi said Tuesday that he’s raised more than $5.2 million since he announced in November. If Hochul is successful in winning her party’s nomination, Republicans will have to make up ground if they stand a chance in the general election.

Nearly two-thirds of registered voters said they didn’t know enough to have an opinion on Rep. Lee Zeldin, a Republican from Long Island who’s considered his party’s presumptive nominee — including 59% of Republicans. His favorability among Republicans stands at 29%.

Andrew Giuliani, the son of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and a previous advisor to former President Donald Trump, is polling higher among Republicans, with 41% marking him as favorable. Giuliani and a handful of other Republicans, including former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino and Lewis County Sheriff Mike Carpinelli, have said they don’t plan to drop their campaigns ahead of an anticipated primary.

The primary is scheduled to be held in June.

The poll also identified which of Hochul's agenda items are most popular among New York voters.

A blue and white chart of Gov. Kathy Hochul proposals and the support they garnered in the Siena College poll.
Siena College
A list of Gov. Kathy Hochul proposals and how much support they garnered from New York voters in the latest Siena College poll.

Greenberg says Hochul's plan to expand job training programs for people who are incarcerated or formerly incarcerated has strong support across the political spectrum: 89% of Democrats, 63% of Republicans and 76% of Independent voters think it's a good idea.

"I think people recognize that society is better if people in prison, coming out of prison have skills necessary to get jobs to support themselves and their families, that's that good for society as a whole," he said.

Hochul's proposal to allocate $4 billion to support wages and bonuses for healthcare workers also has broad bipartisan support. But another idea is struggling.

Greenberg said Hochul got a lot of attention for her plan to permanently legalize the sale of take-out drinks from bars and restaurants. This was enacted on a temporary basis after the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

"Sixty-three percent of Democrats support it, so Democrats are overwhelmingly on board with to-go drinks, but Independent support it by a narrow 49-to-38% margin and Republicans even narrower, 47 to 43%," he said.

The poll also found 77% of New York voters approve of Hochul's proposal to impose a two-term limit for governor, state comptroller and attorney general.

Mark Wozniak, WBFO's local All Things Considered host, has been at WBFO since mid-1978.