For Western New York, Hochul Selection for LG Is Major Pick

For Western New York, Hochul Selection for LG Is Major Pick

For Western New York, Hochul Selection for LG Is Major Pick
May 21, 2014

The best kept secret in state politics is finally out.

Former congresswoman Kathy Hochul of Erie County was selected Wednesday as Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s running mate, just one day before the Democratic Party nominates its ticket for governor and lieutenant governor at its convention on Long Island.

While the ultimate decision of who would be chosen has been held under lock and key since Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy announced earlier this month that he would not seek re-election, Hochul’s name has been floated as a top-of-the-list candidate. She’s also been a popular name among voters. In a recent City & State Reports poll, Hochul was the top choice of respondents for Cuomo to pick as his running mate—with 29 percent of the vote.

Shortly after the announcement was made at the convention Wednesday, both Erie County Democratic Committee Chairman Jeremy Zellner and Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz had high praise for the selection of their local colleague. Poloncarz called Hochul, who was unseated in 2012 by Rep. Chris Collins, a dear friend who will do a tremendous job.

“On behalf of the people of Erie County, it's wonderful to have one of our individuals to be potentially the next lieutenant governor, and I know she will do a fantastic as lieutenant governor,” he said from the convention Wednesday.

Zellner had similar praise.

“Kathy's been a big advocate for my organization,” he said. “We've worked hard for her over the years. She's done a lot for us. She's very close with the Erie County party, and she has a great relationship with our county executive and our congressman and a lot of our other elected officials, so that's going to be big for us.”

Hochul, who previously served as Erie County clerk, has been among the Western New York names thought to be on Cuomo’s list. The other top name was Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, who Tuesday night bowed out from consideration for the job.

The choice of Hochul is one political consultant Bruce Gyory called politically astute. Gyory said 45 to 46 percent of the vote in the general election is likely to come from upstate and 53 percent of the vote is likely to come from women. Those numbers, coupled with the fact that Hochul is a “terrific candidate, who ran hard, ran smart and ran well” in her congressional special election victory in 2011 and in a close loss to Collins in 2012, just might help trigger the kind of landslide victory Cuomo is seeking, Gyory said.

While Republicans may point to Hochul’s loss to Collins in 2012 as a flaw, Zellner said he was not concerned that would affect her in this election. He called the congressional seat one of the most difficult in the state for Democrats.

“It's the most Republican seat, and she narrowly lost the race,” he said. “So that tells me that there's a lot of crossover appeal for her. And so we're just really excited about this.”

The role of lieutenant governor is one that in the past has been seen largely a figurehead role. But Poloncarz said Duffy has taken the job and given it significance, especially when it comes to economic development.

“This is a workhorse position, and that’s exactly what they’re going to get,” he said. “Kathy Hochul is someone who’s not afraid to work hard and do the best for the people of New York state.”

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Matthew Hamilton
Jon Lentz
is City & State’s former editor-in-chief.