Ms. Lever said the governor had made it “crystal clear” that his motivation for flipping the Senate lies in combating Mr. Trump, a popular campaign theme for Mr. Cuomo. The governor reiterated that point in an interview, attributing his engagement to what he called the Trump administration’s meddling in state affairs.
“This situation is unprecedented, because the federal government historically dealt with federal issues,” Mr. Cuomo said. “Now it is interfering in fundamental state issues.”
Senate Democrats, who in the past have criticized Mr. Cuomo’s lukewarm efforts on their behalf, have acknowledged a heartier effort this year.
But some also noted that the governor had not contributed any money to the Senate Democrats’ general campaign fund, as of the most updated campaign finance filings; while Mr. Cuomo has advertised raising $500,000 for Senate candidates through fund-raisers he headlined, that money flowed to the state party, not to the candidates themselves. The party can then disburse the money as it chooses.
As of the most recent filing on Oct. 5, the state party had given money to only two Democratic Senate candidates for the general election: Louis D’Amaro and Monica Martinez, both challengers on Long Island. But the $27,000 contribution to Mr. D’Amaro seemed to be a loan: Mr. D’Amaro’s campaign transferred $27,000 of its own back to the state party.
Mr. Cuomo’s campaign brushed off scrutiny of those numbers, noting that they did not include the $2 million ad campaign, which was announced after the most recent filing deadline, or the governor’s efforts on fund-raising, staff deployment and data sharing.
Still, the progressive flank’s concern has seemed to resonate with candidates, who recognize the power of Mr. Cuomo’s support but may also be wary of alienating the increasingly vocal activist wing of their party. At least one Long Island campaign reached out privately to the grass-roots coalition to reassure members that the candidate was independent, according to several members of the coalition.