Emily’s List, a giant fundraiser dedicated to electing women who support abortion rights, plans on Thursday to support Governor Katie Hochul’s campaign for a full term as New York’s governor.
The group’s support opens doors to wealthy donors and seasoned campaign strategists across the country. But for Ms. Hochul, the state’s first female governor, it may prove more valuable as an early seal of approval for women activists, donors and staff as she tries to freeze potential rivals and stave off tumultuous Democratic primaries next year.
In its endorsement, Emily’s List planned to cite Ms Hohul’s management of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the steps she has taken since taking office in August to get rid of the culture of intimidation and harassment that flourished in Albany under her predecessor. Andrew M. Cuomo.
“Governor Hochul took over New York at a time of skepticism and distrust of Albany,” said Lafonza Butler, the group’s president. “As governor, she’s made it her mission to restore trust between her administration and New Yorkers and deliver results.”
The timing of gaining approval from a group known for their shrewd calculations of who they thought could win was obvious. It is likely to spark a wave in a large field of campaigns to mull high-profile Democrats, including State Attorney General Laetitia James, who will become the first black woman elected as governor of any state.
By supporting Ms Hochul before others decide whether to race, the group seemed to simultaneously signal that she believed she was the most appropriate candidate to win and did their part to prevent participation of others in the race.
The support was in stark contrast to many of New York’s most powerful unions, campaign sponsors, and other elected leaders who appear to be reluctant to support until it is clear whether Ms. James and other Democrats, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, Representative Tom Suozzi or Jumaan Williams, a New York City public defender, decided to flee.
The decision can be especially painful for Ms. James, who is generally considered Ms. Hochul’s most formidable potential adversary, and whose investigation into allegations of sexual harassment prompted Mr. Cuomo to step down. Emily’s List supported Ms. James’s 2018 campaign for attorney general, touting her as a candidate who “has always been on the side of every New Yorker, especially women.”
The group, however, has also supported Ms. Hochul in past Lieutenant Governor and Congress races.
In many ways, Ms. Hochul is a natural candidate to support Emily’s List. She has been a staunch supporter of abortion rights for decades and has achieved historic success in a state that has resisted the appointment of women to some of the top positions.
Ms. Hochul, a Catholic, has made abortion rights a priority for her young administration. After Texas banned all abortion after six weeks last month, the governor declared New York a “safe haven” for women in the state. She also pledged to implement the New York City Reproductive Health Act 2019, including drafting a Patient’s Bill of Rights.
This endorsement is the latest sign that Ms. Hochul, the only Democrat to officially enter the race for governor, is rapidly moving towards amassing resources and support in hopes of reshaping the mainstream.
In recent weeks, she has blocked support from the Democratic Governors Association, the chairman of the New York State Democratic Party, and nearly two dozen other county party committee leaders. She hired a campaign manager and key consultants. And she set a meteoric fundraising pace to try to raise $ 10 million or more by the end of the year from many of the state’s largest political donors.
So far, the tough approach, coupled with Ms Hochul’s work as governor, appears to be paying dividends to voters.
A Marist College poll released on Tuesday showed that Ms. Hochul has a significant lead over her potential opponents if elections are held today. But that could change if Ms. James or another candidate formally enter the race.