Democrats, for contrast, offer Hochul
HUNTINGTON—Kathy Hochul, a former congresswoman from Buffalo whose improbable special-election win was seen as a rebuke of the right-wing budget presented by Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, has accepted the nomination by Governor Andrew Cuomo to run as his lieutenant governor.
The move, announced on the first full day of the Democratic state convention on Long Island, is unmistakably an attempt to bring both gender and geographic balance to the Democratic statewide ticket, which in 2010 featured four white males.
Hochul, who replaces current lieutenant governor Bob Duffy, has served as a top lobbyist for M&T Bank since she lost her re-election bid for Congress in 2012. She previously served as Erie County clerk.
“I'm going to roll up my sleeves and continue to be part of the transformation of this great state,” Hochul said.
The announcement of Hochul's selection was made in a video played at the convention floor, several weeks after Duffy, the only upstater on the last statewide ticket, announced he would not run for a second term.
In selecting Hochul, Cuomo passed over several elected officials in the region who had hoped for the job, including Buffalo mayor Byron Brown. Other political figures who had been mentioned as contenders spoke at the convention, including Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and even Christine Quinn, the former speaker of the New York City Council.
Several speculative candidates bowed out in recent days, and people advising the governor said Cuomo's team also looked at several administration aides, including Secretary of State Cesar Perales, 73, who many attendees at the convention on Tuesday morning guessed would be designated.
Republicans, whose ticket will be headed up by Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, nominated Chemung County sheriff Chris Moss for lieutenant governor, and said the elevation of a black man would pressure Democrats to similarly diversify their ticket.
Hochul would be the second female Democrat to serve as lieutenant governor of New York, following Mary Anne Krupsak, a Schenectady native who was Hugh Carey's deputy in 1974. (Two different women served as lieutenant governor under Republican George Pataki.)
There are no women on this year's Republican ticket. Hochul's appointment was part of a larger push by Democrats to emphasize their diversity and draw contrast with Republicans.
Democrats rolled out a string of speakers today, including former governor and newly-selected state party co-chairman David Paterson.
Former New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Rep. Grace Meng of Queens all gave short addresses, painting the Republicans as “extremists” on gun control and abortion rights, while using the cast of speakers to illustrate diversity in their own party.
“Right now the Republican party that existed in New York state doesn’t exist anymore,” Paterson, the state’s first African-American governor, said in a sprawling speech, his first as the state Democratic Party’s new co-chair.
“Where are the Jacob Javitses of today?” Paterson asked. “Where are the Republicans who we may have disagreed with but they definitely knew that they were trying to make America as strong as we were?”
“I’m talking about an insensitive, hateful atmosphere, that has derived its party ideology from preventing other people from being part of this country,” Paterson said, characterizing Republicans in Washington as catering to a “smoldering anger” that is “enveloping our whole country.”
Paterson took a shot at Astorino, saying that the Republican nominee's pledge to cut taxes statewide was laughable, because Astorino’s home county of Westchester has the highest property tax rate in the country.
“This is like getting Bernie Madoff to run the S.E.C.!” he said.
Quinn touted Cuomo’s push to legalize same-sex marriage in 2011.
Meng questioned Republican senators’ unwillingness to pass the Women’s Equality Act, a bill that includes a measure to codify Roe v. Wade by creating an affirmative right to a medical abortion and stripping abortion language from the penal code.
In addition to getting a female on the ticket, Cuomo also gains from Hochul a potential liaison to voters in a region he lost in 2010 to Carl Paladino, a Buffalo developer who was the eventual Republican nominee.
Cuomo, in the announcement video, praised Hochul as someone who “knows the needs of upstate New York, knows Western New York and the particular needs of Western New York.”
Western New York Democrats cheered.
“It's huge, it's huge,” said Erie County Democratic chairman Jeremy Zellner. “Kathy is beloved in our community across party lines. She's an inspirational figure and has experience on every governmental level. It's great.”
Hochul, in the video, praised her new boss.
“In my hometown of Buffalo, we've seen an economic recovery that many politicians balanced but only Governor Cuomo has been able to deliver,” she said. “It's exciting to see how far we've come as a state, and I don't want to be on the sidelines for what the future holds.”