These real estate bigwigs cut the biggest checks to Hochul, Zeldin

Governor continues to rake in industry cash

From left: Kathy Hochul,, Joe Strasburg, Don Peebles, Joe Strasburg, and Lee Zeldin
From left: Kathy Hochul,, Joe Strasburg, Don Peebles, Jerry Speyer, and Lee Zeldin (Getty)

Some of the city’s biggest developers are still betting on Gov. Kathy Hochul to win next month’s election, but industry-fueled political action committees have ponied up for Republican challenger Rep. Lee Zeldin.

Hochul is still outpacing Zeldin, having raised $11.7 million to his $6.4 million from June 28 through Oct. 3, according to the latest state campaign financing report.

In those 14 weeks alone, checks of $10,000 or more to Hochul from prominent real estate figures add up to at least $850,000. SL Green’s Marc Holliday, who donated $10,000 to the governor earlier this year, gave more than $40,000 to her campaign in August.

Developer Don Peebles and his wife Katrina held a small fundraising dinner at their Hamptons home in August for Hochul. They, along with their son, Donahue Peebles III, contributed $45,000 to Hochul’s campaign at the time, which works out to $15,000 a plate.

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Peebles told The Real Deal he supports candidates “that are very qualified and that are going to break barriers.”

“It’s about time that New York had a female governor,” he said. “I am excited to be a part of her efforts to get elected in her own right.” Hochul ascended to her office when Andrew Cuomo resigned in August 2021, then won the June Democratic primary. A win Nov. 8 would earn her a four-year term.

Developer John Catsimatidis, a former Republican mayoral candidate who has historically donated across party lines, gave Hochul $25,000. Tishman Speyer’s Jerry Speyer donated $19,700 and Extell Development’s Gary Barnett gave $10,000. All three men are billionaires.

Vornado Realty Trust’s Haim Chera gave Hochul $47,700, although Chera’s family hosted a September fundraiser for Zeldin in New Jersey. Former President Donald Trump, who was a friend of the family’s late patriarch Stanley Chera, attended, according to the New York Times.
Haim Chera also donated $30,000 to Zeldin. His brothers, Isaac and Richard Chera, remain at the family firm, Crown Acquisitions.

Zeldin received at least $600,000 from industry players who cut checks for $5,000 or more, according to campaign filings.

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The Adjmi family, through entities tied to their company, has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Zeldin over the past two years. In this latest round, A&H Acquisitions’ Harry Adjmi shelled out another $35,000 to the Long Island Congress member. Adjmi’s brother, Alex Adjmi, was pardoned by Trump as he left office in 2021.

Frieda Chera, the wife of the late Stanley Chera, donated $45,000 to Zeldin in September.

Haim Chera was not the only real estate player to give heavily to both candidates. Cammeby’s International Group’s Avi Schron also hedged his bets, giving $25,000 to both Zeldin and Hochul’s campaigns.

(Chera Brothers)

Two political action committees tied to the Rent Stabilization Association donated a total of $89,000 to Zeldin in September. Landlords and property managers, including Richard LeFrak and entities tied to Nelson Management, contributed to the PACs.

“RSA encourages its 25,000 members, and their families and friends, to support candidates for elected office who recognize the needs and issues that impact providers of affordable housing, and realize the importance of property owners — especially mom-and-pop building owners — to the city’s economic recovery,” RSA President Joseph Strasburg said in a statement.

RSA is challenging the constitutionality of the state’s rent stabilization law, which was reformed in 2019 when Hochul was Cuomo’s powerless and marginalized lieutenant governor.

Zeldin would likely be an ally of landlords opposed to the pro-tenant reforms in that law. He has also positioned himself as tough on crime, a key issue for the industry.

Hochul has pledged to fight for real estate’s priorities, notably a replacement for 421a, during the next legislative session.