Gov. Kathy Hochul at a news briefing in Albany last week.

Gov. Kathy Hochul at a news briefing in Albany last week. Credit: Office of Gov. Kathy Hochul/Darren McGee

ALBANY — Gov. Kathy Hochul holds a commanding 40-point lead over her rivals for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, according to a new poll released Monday.

The Siena College poll found 52% of Democrats surveyed said they favored the Buffalo incumbent in the June primary, compared with 12% for New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and 11% for Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove). Williams is running to the political left of Hochul; Suozzi to the right.

Siena also asked Democratic voters about a hypothetical primary if former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo were in the race. That matchup only slightly favored Hochul, 38% to 30%, with Suozzi garnering 10% and Williams 7%.

Cuomo, who resigned last year amid allegations of sexual harassment and other abuses of power, has not said he is running. But he has tried to resurrect his reputation through a series of ads and speeches. In the Siena survey, 67% of voters said Cuomo should not run for governor.

In the hypothetical Cuomo matchup, Siena noted that Black Democats preferred the former governor to Hochul, 50% to 23%. However, the sample size of Black Democats was extremely small, 62, making the result more interesting than statistically substantial, Siena said.

Hochul has a big advantage over her rivals in how voters view her: 67% of Democrats view her favorably, compared with 17% unfavorably. The numbers for Suozzi were 20-18; Williams, 24-19. Cuomo is underwater on that question: 32-60.

Among the issues Siena polled, a large margin of New Yorkers — 56% to 30% — say the 2019 overhaul of bail laws has been bad for the state. That’s a big shift from when the law was adopted when New Yorkers — 55% to 38% — favored the new law.

At its core, the overhaul eliminated the use of bail for holding defendants for almost all misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies. Critics have blamed the law for a crime spike. Proponents say statistics don’t back that up, showing just 1% of defendants released without bail since the law was enacted have been rearrested for a violent offense. They also note there is a national crime spike, even in locales that didn’t change bail laws.

Democratic voters still slightly favor bail reform, 46-38. But that’s way down from April 2019, when it was 64-31. Among Republicans, 84% say the law has been bad for New York; 9% who favor it.

Hochul has proposed a plan to amend the law to lower the number of weapons possessed in order to be charged with a bail-eligible crime and to give judges power to set bail on defendants who are charged with multiple offenses in an 18-month period. The governor and lawmakers are discussing the proposal as part of ongoing state budget negotiations.

One issue that unites voters, Siena found, is a proposal to suspend state and local taxes on gasoline: 70% favor it, 24% oppose. That issue also is part of budget talks.

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