MELVILLE, N.Y. (WIVB) – Gov. Andrew Cuomo has named Kathy Hochul to share the ticket as his running mate in his bid for re-election.
Hochul served in the House of Representatives but lost a bid to regain her seat to Republican Chris Collins in November 2012.
Erie County Democratic Chairman Jeremy Zellner told News 4 state Democrats will formally nominate Hochul as their lieutenant governor candidate on Thursday.
Zellner said the Democrats are “ecstatic” at Cuomo’s choice of Hochul.
“He has a highly professional female from upstate New York who’s got a lot of government experience, who’s fiercely independent, who nearly won a Congressional district that’s the toughest in the nation, the most Republican, because of what she brings to the table,” Zellner said.
For Cuomo, adding a woman who is also a Western New Yorker to his ticket is seen as a strategic move. Those who know Hochul say it’s a chance for her to return to her true passion – politics.
“Kathy really is a political animal. Her time on the Town Board in Hamburg… She understands politics very well, being involved in county government. And then of course at the federal level, that’s cutthroat politics at its worst, I guess, or best,” said David Swarts, another former Erie County Clerk who went on to serve as Commissioner of Motor Vehicles under Governors Eliot Spitzer and David Patterson.
Swarts believes Hochul will be able to hold her own in Albany’s highly-charged political atmosphere.
“It’ll be an interesting experience for her, and a challenge in some ways. The role of Lieutenant Governor is not clearly defined,” Swarts said.
Cuomo had his previous Lt. Governor, Robert Duffy, take on the major role of running his regional economic development councils.
“I think what Kathy needs to do is be on her roller skates, because the Governor has had him [Duffy] all over the state,” said Town of Tonawanda Supervisor Anthony Caruana, who’s not affiliated with any party.
“I know Kathy personally. She’s an outstanding woman. She has the charisma… She has the people skills. She knows what we need in Western New York,” said Caruana. “She’s got to be prepared to move as quickly as she can.”
In an email announcement sent out Wednesday, Governor Cuomo said,
“Kathy is a lifelong New Yorker who knows the needs of upstate and western New York and, if all goes well in November, Kathy will be the first female Democratic Lieutenant Governor in over 35 years.
New York State is on the move, and as our next Lieutenant Governor, I know Kathy is going help us continue our tremendous progress.”
Cuomo also announced another powerful western New York Democrat, Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes, will have a large role in his campaign. Peoples-Stokes will co-chair his re-election campaign along with Ruben Diaz, Jr, Bronx borough president. Oswego mayor John Sullivan will chair the governor’s coordinated upstate campaign.
Former Gov. David Paterson has been tapped to become the new Democratic Party chairman, replacing Assemblyman Keith Wright, a Harlem Democrat.