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Charles B. Rangel, the longtime dean of Harlem politics, had a blunt question for two of Gov. Kathy Hochul’s top policy advisors at a private meeting last month: Where’s the campaign?

Mr Rangel told campaign officials they were concerned the governor was unwisely leaving high-voting Black and Latino neighborhoods unattended. No billboards, handbills, subway spares or other ground operations normally used to herd voters to the ballot boxes for the June 28 New York governor primary.

“There was absolutely no one who knew anyone who did anything,” Mr. Rangel recently recalled. There was no action at all in the district.”

Rep. Gregory W. Meeks, the head of Queens’ Democratic machinery, shared similar concerns around the same time. Speaking to Ms. Hochul, he urged her to pay more attention to communities like his and put together a more diverse political operation that could inspire voters.

And recently, three major union leaders who supported Ms Hochul, speaking to the New York Times, said they were amazed the governor’s team had not asked for help to campaign, rally or run other political errands, that their predecessors demanded. One of them flatly said he saw no evidence of campaign activity.

According to all reports, Ms. Hochul is heading for a comfortable main victory. She has cornered almost every major political endorsement and raised record-breaking fundraising while outselling her opponents Thomas R. Suozzi and Jumaane D. Williams by millions of dollars in television and digital advertising.

Commanding leadership has enabled Ms. Hochul’s team to employ what it calls a rose garden strategy and avoid the kind of full-scale on-the-ground campaign being used by her challengers to save money and position a new governor, who is yet to be introduced herself to get New Yorkers above the political fray ahead of the grueling general election this fall.

Most of the political appearances she’s made that spring — at black churches, for example, or at parades — were official government events or unpublicized appearances. In the last month, her campaign has only announced five official events for the media.

In interviews last week, a broad spectrum of elected officials, party leaders and Democratic strategists expressed concern that the governor’s cautious approach could come at the expense of building the kind of old-fashioned political ground game and enthusiasm with veteran Black. Latino and union voters, who will need a relatively untested western New York candidate like Ms. Hochul to spur Democratic voters to the polls in November.

They worry that the governor’s campaign strategy could stall Democratic turnout in the state’s largest liberal stronghold, leaving Democrats vulnerable in key congressional and state elections, if not the party’s hold on the mansion jeopardize governors.

“She’s not from New York City, she’s from Buffalo,” Mr. Meeks said in an interview, implying that Ms. Hochul must “act very vigorously” to bring more workers, business people and non-white New York voices to the table bring to. While Ms. Hochul has a handful of prominent city advisors, her team is currently largely run by people from New York State, Colorado, Washington, DC and North Carolina who have relatively little experience running races in the state.

“She acknowledged that many people ran statewide in her campaign but aren’t necessarily endemic to New York City politics, which is important,” he added. “If you’re running for governor, you need to expand that base. She does.”

Recognition…Pool photo by Sarah Silbiger

And although Ms. Hochul appears poised to win the primary, Democratic strategists warned that a soft turnout in the primary could harm her running mate Antonio Delgado, who is in closer competition against Ana María Archila and Diana Reyna, and possibly Ms. Hochul would saddle up with an opposing running mate in the fall.

“Everyone is scratching their heads. She hasn’t held rallies and needs to get out of the vote,” said George Arzt, a Democratic strategist who has led campaigns in New York City since the 1980s. “The person in danger isn’t them, it’s their running mate.”

Tyquana Henderson-Rivers, a senior adviser to Ms. Hochul with close ties to New York’s Democrats, defended the governor’s approach in an interview, acknowledging that the campaign is following a “slower build-up” than some elected officials are used to. But there are reasons.

This is the first year that New York’s gubernatorial primary will be held in June instead of September, extending the campaign season between the primary and the general election. The pandemic is still making certain in-person campaign tactics difficult. And Ms. Hochul’s team is deliberately conserving resources in preparation for a greater general election threat than their Democratic predecessors faced in years.

“We hear you,” Ms Henderson-Rivers said when asked if other Democrats raised concerns about the campaign, before adding that Ms Hochul’s operation would buzz when it matters. “It won’t be cold, I assure you. We turn up.”

Certainly there are signs that the governor’s campaign is gaining momentum.

Ms. Hochul attended a breakfast hosted by Mr. Meeks in south-east Queens in mid-June with more than 200 clergy and city leaders. Mr Rangel acknowledged that the Hochul campaign had increased its presence in Harlem, where dozens of volunteers and paid staff, including from the Hotel and Gaming Trades Council, fanned out last weekend to knock on doors and distribute literature.

A campaign spokesman, Jerrel Harvey, said Ms Hochul’s paid media and field program “will reach voters where they are and benefit all Democrats now and in November.”

The campaign says it has so far spent more than $13 million on TV and radio waves, another over $1 million on digital advertising, and the state party has reached more than 400,000 households through traditional mail, many of them African American, Latinos and Asians – Numbers far higher than any of their rivals.

“If I were the Democrats, I would have a lot of worries in November,” said Jason Ortiz, a veteran politician with close ties to the hotel and casino union. “But Kathy Hochul as governor wouldn’t be one.”

And yet it was relatively common to think about Ms. Hochul’s approach. Some supporters of the governor quietly draw comparisons to her predecessor, Andrew M. Cuomo, a ruthless political tactician who used unions, political proxies and the governor’s office to rake in big margins.

Mr. Cuomo made particular use of organized labor, using them as de facto political personnel, using union members to shadow his opponents, knock on doors and create a sense of momentum around his campaign.

With a few notable exceptions, Ms. Hochul has largely limited herself to monetary donations. Some of the unions, who asked for anonymity so as not to offend Ms Hochul, said they planned to start voting of their own accord.

“It’s an unusual approach for a governor, but I think it’s a strategic approach that could turn out better in the city than one would expect,” said Henry Garrido, chief executive of the city’s largest public union, District Council 37. “Normally what would happen, we have a model where you try to get as much momentum through physical presence as you can show up everywhere, gather and talk.

Instead, Mr. Garrido said, the governor has enlisted his help with quieter events in Latino communities in Inwood and the Bronx. He predicted that they would work in their favor.

Unlike Mr. Cuomo, Ms. Hochul tended to avoid the political limelight for many more overt political events, such as a Monday stop at Borough Park’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, and chose not to announce them publicly beforehand.

“She walked the streets with me,” said MP Adriano Espaillat, who represents Mr Rangel’s old district. Mr. Espaillat has tweeted about the events, but he said Ms Hochul’s decision not to make them public was her prerogative: “They are doing what they think is best.”

Recognition…Porter Binks/EPA, via Shutterstock

In central Brooklyn, home to another large bloc of black voters whose votes are helping win Democratic coalitions, Ms. Hochul appears to have work to do to enlist two powerful leaders who could help mobilize votes: Letitia James, popular New York City attorney General, who briefly ran against her; and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries.

Mr. Jeffries has officially endorsed Ms. Hochul (Ms. James has not), but he has yet to run with her and has told his staff that he is disappointed that Ms. Hochul did not oppose a court-imposed redistricting plan, wreaked havoc on some communities of color and the state’s delegation to Washington.

When asked if he thought Ms. Hochul was doing enough for communities of color in New York City, Mr. Jeffries said he had no comment. Ms James’ campaign also declined to comment when asked if she expected to support the race.

Democratic officials and campaign strategists in Latino strongholds in Upper Manhattan and the Bronx have shared their own concerns.

Luis A. Miranda Jr., a founding partner at MirRam Group, a political consulting firm working on Ms. James’ re-election campaign, said he was impressed by a recent dinner with Ms. Hochul, both the governor and a new “Nueva York ” initiative by leaders of the State Democratic Party dedicated to exalting Latinos. But he said the governor and her team had more to do to persuade Latino voters and leaders, some of whom have expressed doubts about Mr Delgado’s claim to Afro-Latin American roots.

“Where she needs to do the work is not solely with her campaign, but with the Democratic Party, which should serve her and her ticket,” he said. “Everyone thinks if they hire three people and have a slogan, they’ll reach the community. It’s window dressing.”

For his part, Mr Meeks said he was confident Ms Hochul understood the severity of a course correction and would put in a strong performance on his part of Queens. But given the party’s stakes, he said, “Of course there can be improvements.”

“It’s important,” he said, conjuring up memories of Republican Gov. George E. Pataki’s 1994 victory. “The one time we ended up with a Republican governor, I remember it very vividly because it was low turnout, particularly in the African-American community in New York City.”

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