Three months ago, billionaire developer Stephen Ross launched a political action committee aimed at the Democratic mayoral primary. He set out to raise tens of millions of dollars, the New York Times reported at the time.
Now, with just one week until the primary, the so-called super PAC has only raised $875,000.
Vote for New York’s Future has spent $2.2 million, a paltry sum in a citywide election where a single candidate might spend five times as much.
A majority of the entity’s spending went toward research and creating a website, according to state campaign finance records. It hasn’t backed a specific candidate, though it has made clear that it doesn’t want someone like the incumbent, who cannot run again.
“In 2013, only 3 percent of New Yorkers voted for Bill de Blasio in the last open Democratic primary for mayor and that election made him mayor of New York for the next 8 years,” the PAC’s website warns. “We can’t afford to miss out on the opportunity to make our voices heard by voting on June 22.”
Increasing turnout typically brings more moderate voters to the polls, benefiting the real estate industry by diluting the voting power of far-left ideologues.
Ross, chairman of Related Companies, is the PAC’s top contributor, having provided $500,000 in March. Hedge fund manager Ricky Sandler, founder of Eminence Capital, provided the second-largest amount at $100,000. The rest is largely from other hedge funds.
A spokesperson for Related declined to comment. In October, a representative for Ross told the Times that the developer had not committed to raising a specific amount of money.
The paltry fundraising speaks in part to a reluctance among Ross’ fellow developers to devote large sums to political advocacy — a contrast to the first term of the Cuomo administration, when they forked over piles of money to support fiscal conservatism.
Ross also contributed $1 million to another committee, Common Sense New York, that has exclusively targeted City Council races. The PAC has spent more than $615,000 on digital ads and mailers against seven progressive candidates it calls — as The City reported — “too dangerous for the City Council.” Four are endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of America.
Real estate dollars have poured into another PAC, Strong Leadership NYC, which backs Eric Adams for mayor. Point 72 CEO Steven Cohen gave $1.5 million; Extell Development’s Gary Barnett, $250,000; and RFR Holding’s Aby Rosen, $100,000, according to state records. The PAC has raised more than $6 million.