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Kathy Hochul Aims to Raise $25 Million as Likely Rivals Eye Challenges

So far, Ms. Hochul appears to be emulating Mr. Cuomo’s fund-raising approach — though certainly not his domineering style — by primarily relying on donors with large checkbooks rather than the kind of grass-roots contributors who chip in $5 or $25. But her campaign has recently hired Authentic Campaigns, a consulting firm specializing in small-donor online donations that has worked for Mr. Biden and other prominent Democrats, to try to change that.

“People gave Andrew money, but nobody liked him,” said Jeffrey Gural, chairman of a large real estate company who gave Mr. Cuomo more than $150,000 over the years before an acrimonious split. “You gave him money because you were afraid of him, as simple as that.”

Ms. Hochul, Mr. Gural said, was much more accessible, professional and productive.

He is not the only one of Mr. Cuomo’s major backers Ms. Hochul is courting. Among the guests Wednesday night at the 10,000-square-foot home of Mr. Mehiel, himself a former Cuomo donor, were a handful of the former governor’s biggest supporters, including Mr. Rechler and Lester Petracca, another real estate developer.

The governor spoke in detail about reducing crime, increasing vaccination rates and restarting the city’s economy after 18 months of being rattled by the coronavirus, attendees said.

She also made clear that she intended to work closely with Eric Adams, the Democratic mayoral nominee for New York City mayor who is virtually certain to win November’s general election, in what would be a major shift after years of an extraordinarily toxic relationship between Mr. Cuomo and Mr. de Blasio.

Some in the crowd appeared ready for a reset.

“Let’s see her actions — she deserves a break to do the right job for all New Yorkers,” said Mr. Catsimatidis, before adding a dose of Empire State realpolitik: “You know why people do fund-raisers? When they call, they want their phone calls returned.”

Dana Rubinstein and Jeffery C. Mays contributed reporting.

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