So far, Mrs. Hochul followed Mr. Cuomo’s fundraising approach—though by no means his dominant style—by relying primarily on donors with large checkbooks rather than the kind of basic contributors who hand in $5 or $25. But her campaign recently hired Authentic Campaigns, a consulting firm that specializes in online donations from small donors and 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 major real estate company that gave Mr. Cuomo more than $150,000 in the years before a bitter split. “You gave him money because you were afraid of him, it’s that simple.”
Ms Hochul, Mr Gural said, was much more approachable, professional and productive.
He is not the only one of Mr. Cuomo’s main lenders who 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 curbing crime, increasing vaccination rates and restarting the city’s economy after 18 months of being disrupted by the coronavirus, attendees said.
She also made it clear that she plans to work closely with Eric Adams, the Democratic mayoral candidate for New York City mayor who will almost certainly win November’s general election, in what would be a major shift after years of extraordinary toxic relationship between Mr. Cuomo and Mr. de Blasio.
Some in the crowd seemed ready for a reset.
“Let’s take a look at her actions — she deserves a break from doing the right job for all New Yorkers,” said Mr. Catsimatidis, before adding a dose of Empire State realpolitik, “You know why people do fundraisers? When they call, they want to be called back.”
Dana Rubinstein and Jeffery C. Mays reporting contributed.