Influential donors rally around New York’s lieutenant governor ahead of next year’s high-stakes campaign

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  • New York Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin is assembling an expeditionary battle chest that can deter the primary challenger and help finance future campaigns.
  • Benjamin is up for re-election in 2022 and will likely face a primary battle for his seat, including a possible campaign by state Senator Alessandra Biaggi.
  • Benjamin attended a kickoff campaign fundraising event on November 9 at the home of longtime New York businessman Dennis Meehil.
  • Benjamin has also brought in at least two fundraising consultants to advise on building a strong operation.

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New York Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin is quietly gathering a group of influential big-money donors as he prepares for a potential primary battle for his seat.

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Benjamin, who was a state senator before being elected as the state’s lieutenant governor by Gov. Kathy Hochul in August, recently joined with wealthy donors to begin building his campaign war chest, according to people familiar with the matter. The meeting started. Some declined to be named, to speak freely about the ongoing private fundraising effort.

Benjamin is up for re-election in 2022 and will likely face a primary battle for his seat, including a possible campaign by State Sen. Alessandra Biaggi.

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Some said Benjamin attended a kickoff campaign fundraising on November 9 at the home of longtime New York businessman Dennis Meehil. According to people familiar with the effort, several other fundraising events are scheduled to take place in the coming weeks.

Supporters say they are backing Benjamin because he is a key partner of Governor Hochul and for his ability to run for governor himself in the future, among other reasons.

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Hochul herself is in the middle of the Democratic primary for her seat, with New York Attorney General Letitia James recently announcing a run for governor.

Benjamin is a moderate Democrat with ties to the New York business community through his prior work at Morgan Stanley. He was on former President Barack Obama’s National Finance Committee and later helped Vice President Kamala Harris during the 2020 race for the presidency. As a state senator, Benjamin advocated for criminal justice reform and affordable housing.

Hochul, introducing Benjamin, said at his press conference that he would be “someone who would support our policies and our administration’s agenda in every corner of the state, with a genuine focus on New York City, as we help New York City.” Is required.”

Some of the state’s biggest Democratic donors and power players took place in early November, including Mike Kempner, CEO of public relations giant MikeWorldwide; John Haynes, CEO of corporate advisory firm C Street Advisory Group; Melissa Prober, who is Benjamin’s president of campaign finance and currently general counsel at Haynes’ firm; and Brian Mathis, Wall Street veteran and founder of Pine Street Alternative Asset Management. A list of attendees was provided to CNBC.

Other business leaders on the attendee list include real estate executives Will Blodet and Bruce Teitelbaum. New York Giants co-owner Laurie Tisch is also on the roster as an attendee.

The event ended with raising more than $200,000, more than doubling his original goal of bringing in $100,000 for Benjamin’s campaign, the people said. Donors can give up to $22,000 to statewide candidates running for office in New York during the primary season.

“It is no surprise that donors are enthusiastically contributing to the Lieutenant Governor and we have exceeded expectations for the kickoff event,” Prober told CNBC in a statement. “I can tell you this: We’re just getting started and January will have very strong numbers for the first filing.”

Benjamin has also brought in at least two fundraising consultants to advise on building a strong operation. Shari Yost Gold, a longtime fundraiser for Harris, has signed on to work for Benjamin, she confirmed to CNBC.

“Brian is a big part of the future of the party — he looks smart, practical and gives donors — they’re ready to help him,” Yost Gold told CNBC about his work for Benjamin.

Anthony Mercurio, who helped run Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s fundraising effort when he ran for president in 2020, is also advising Benjamin, according to People briefed on the matter.

Many of the people who helped raise money for Benjamin also assisted in Harris’s 2020 campaign and experienced bundling for other Democratic leaders across the country. Kempner, who presided over the recent event at Meehil’s home, has been one of the party’s financiers, activating his network for Benjamin, acting as one of his key external advisers. Haynes was Harris’ national finance chair during her previous run for the White House.

Party leaders at a recent Benjamin fundraising event include former New York Gov. David Patterson, former Representative Charlie Rangel, Democratic New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and NAACP New York State Conference president Dr. Hazel Dukes, the list shows. .

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