NEW YORK (AP) — Kathy Hochul’s bid to become New York’s next lieutenant governor won the endorsement of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday, as Hochul sought to push back against a Democratic primary challenger who has questioned her liberal credentials.
Joined on the steps of City Hall by City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and about a dozen other councilmembers, de Blasio called Hochul a progressive who stood up for her beliefs while serving as a Buffalo congresswoman despite any political fallout.
“Kathy has been claimed to be an underdog many, many times, something I can personally relate to. She’s been in a lot of tough political circumstances. She’s taken on a lot of tough fights. She’s not ever been afraid to challenge powerful forces.”
Hochul, who is Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s pick to replace retiring Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy, vowed to support liberal priorities, such as a higher minimum wage and the Dream Act for young immigrants. She also promised to work closely with city leaders if elected.
“I’ve seen gridlock on steroids in Washington, D.C.,” she said. “We don’t need that in the state of New York — we need people working together, our lieutenant governor, our governor, our speaker and our mayor who know how to get the job done.”
Candidates for lieutenant governor run alongside their party’s gubernatorial nominee in the general election but independently on the primary, creating the possibility that Cuomo could win while his lesser-known running mate could lose.
The winner of the Democratic primary will face Chemung County Sheriff Chris Moss, a Republican running alongside GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino.
Hochul’s opponent in next week’s Democratic primary, Columbia University law professor Tim Wu, has questioned Hochul’s congressional record, saying she had conservative views on guns and on the environment. Wu is the running mate of Zephyr Teachout, a Fordham University law professor mounting a long-shot bid to oust Cuomo.
Wu and Teachout have also criticized Cuomo and Hochul for refusing to participate in a primary debate. On Tuesday, Wu called Hochul’s refusal “a mockery of the democratic process.”
Hochul told The Associated Press on Wednesday that she’s been too busy campaigning and that “it’s more important that I engage with the actual voters.”
Hochul served a single term in the U.S. House of Representatives before losing a re-election bid in 2012. She then took a job as a vice president and lobbyist at M&T Bank.
Mark-Viverito noted Hochul’s support for women’s issues. The speaker, a fierce defender of immigrant rights, also touted Hochul’s position on the Dream Act.
“She didn’t let the conservative politics of her district stand in the way of her progressive beliefs,” Mark-Viverito said.