Albany Agenda

Hochul mocks Republican South Dakota governor in LCA rebuttal

New York’s first female governor took shots at her Republican counterpart and poked fun at herself.

Gov. Kathy Hochul delivers her rebuttal to the 122nd Legislative Correspondents Association show on May 22, 2024.

Gov. Kathy Hochul delivers her rebuttal to the 122nd Legislative Correspondents Association show on May 22, 2024. Rebecca C. Lewis

Journalists, lawmakers and political players gathered a few blocks from the state Capitol last night for the 122nd Legislative Correspondents Association Show. The annual tradition features reporters lambasting the people they cover through song and dance, with rebuttals from both parties. For the third year in a row, Gov. Kathy Hochul offered the Democratic rebuttal – with a particular focus on another female governor who has been in the news lately. 

Hochul made several jabs at Republican South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, whose name has been floated as a potential running mate for Donald Trump. Noem most recently made headlines for a controversial portion of her new memoir, in which she described shooting and killing her family’s young dog, a decision she characterized as one of the hard realities of living on a farm. Hochul poked fun at her conservative counterpart by sharing a fake tourism ad her office created, which featured Hochul petting a dog, along with the text “I ❤️ NY. We love puppies and hate guns.” Hochul contrasted the image with another fake ad featuring Noem carrying a rifle, with the text “We hate puppies and love guns.” 

Hochul spoke about the Republican supermajorities that exist in South Dakota, as opposed to New York’s Democratic supermajorities in the state Legislature.”And then you got a tooth whitening model who shills for a Texas dentist while serving part-time governor,” Hochul said, referencing an infomercial-type video that Noem posted on social that draw scrutiny and a lawsuit for promoting a Texas dentistry business. “It’s true, look it up.” She next ridiculed Noem for a 2019 PSA campaign to combat meth usage that featured graphics with phrases like “Meth. I’m on it.” A spokesperson for Noem did not immediately return a request for comment.

Hochul’s rebuttal also featured Rep. Tom Suozzi, the governor’s gubernatorial rival in 2022. He recorded a short video that played at the start of Hochul’s roughly 20-minute remarks. “One of the greatest days of my life was when I visited (Hochul) in Albany to ask for her blessing to run for Congress,” Suozzi said in the video, referencing a meeting first reported on by The New York Times in which Suozzi made assurances to Hochul about his run for Congress before she got behind his campaign. Suozzi has said that he apologized for the personal attacks he hurled at Hochul during the 2022 Democratic primary for governor. He officially received the nomination to run in the February special election for the 3rd Congressional District soon after that meeting.

In the video, Suozzi joked that one of the promises he made at the meeting was to be available to step in for Hochul “at her least important events.” “So I’m here,” he said, before giving a sentence-long “speech” saying that Hochul “kicked ass in this year’s budget.”

During the rebuttal, Hochul occasionally poked fun at herself. “I wanted to make sure the audience was packed for my remarks, which is why I invited 1,000 members of the New York State National Guard to join us today,” Hochul said, referencing her controversial decision to send National Guard troops into New York City subways. “Now go back to the subway and look really scary so nobody commits any crimes, you’re doing great.” The governor added for the “naysayers” that “crime is down on the subways,” pulling up a New York Post headline saying as much.

Hochul also acknowledged recent polling from Siena College that showed her job rating and favorability are at record lows. The show took place on the same day that Siena released its latest poll, which showed that her numbers still have not bounced back from the lows hit in April.

Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay and Rep. Mike Lawler – who was not able to attend the show – offered the Republican rebuttal. Lawler recorded a Daily Show-style video that played at the event, which opened with Lawler calling himself a top target of House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries' bid to flip Republican congressional seats in New York. “They have no shot,” Lawler said with a wink. 

Lawler also took aim at U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer over the war in Gaza and Schumer’s supposed lack of support for fellow Jewish people. “Today, Sen. Schumer is turning his back on fellow Jews for the votes,” Lawler said. “And because he’s scared shitless of AOC.” He closed by joking that he would be governor “in a couple of years.”