To be honest, I was concerned that Kathy Hochul, who comes from conservative upstate (and yes, 10 years ago when she was in Congress got an A rating from the NRA) would not continue the policies and programs that have transformed, revitalized, reinvigorated New York ever since Democrats cemented control of the government, when she was elevated from lieutenant governor to governor 10 months ago.
Look around at our state parks, revitalized downtowns, our new bridges, our new roadways, new airports, wind farms going in well off Long Island’s southern shore, a focus on women’s rights, civil rights, voting rights, criminal justice, equity, and aggressive focus on sustainable economic development. Be honest, all these things were put into place by the disgraced Andrew Cuomo, but Hochul has smartly, vigorously continued them. (As I write this, Gov. Hochul signed the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of New York.)
And she has made her own mark as well, most notably and urgently with women’s rights and gun safety.
It is fairly remarkable what she has accomplished in just the 10 months since she was put into office, particularly on gun safety. She not only signed a dozen gun safety laws – banning ghost guns, strengthening Red Flag law, microstamping, implementing gun violence prevention programs in communities – and created a coalition of states to go after gun trafficking. But she has set a strategy to immediately respond if (when) the rightwing Supreme Court majority nullifies New York’s concealed carry permit law.
Responding to challenger, Congressman Tom Suozzi’s persistent attack that she earned an A-rating from the NRA 10 years ago when she was in Congress, she zinged back that she has evolved. “That evolution is an evolution that we need to have more people have. And I’m the best person to talk to about that.”
Hochul has also been aggressive in going after domestic terrorism, hate crimes and cybersecurity, establishing a first-of-its-kind Joint Security Operations Center in Brooklyn as part of a $61.9 million investment in the state’s cybersecurity infrastructure and proposing a new $30 million program for localities to bolster their cyber defenses.
She has been a steely strong champion of protecting women’s rights to control their own bodies and their own destiny.
“Like the vast majority of Americans, I was horrified to learn that extremists on the court are likely to strip away the right to an abortion by overturning Roe,” she said. This decision, once announced, will have devastating consequences for the health, well-being and economic security of millions of women across this country. But New York is not backing down.”
She announced $35 million to support abortion providers and new legislation to protect abortion providers and their patients.
“Make no mistake: for as long as I am governor, New York will be a safe harbor for all those who need abortion care,” Hochul declared. (This clearly would not be the case if Republicans take control.)
She also has insured that economic development, investments in infrastructure, public health – smartly anticipating new surges in COVID and new pandemics – and education and environmental protection be based on equity for communities.
She has been aggressive in advancing New York’s transition to clean, renewable energy and a sustainable economy. “With her Clean Path NY initiative, Gov. Kathy Hochul is championing the largest renewable energy and transmission project in New York state in the last 50 years.” said Assemblymember Kevin A. Cahill (D-Ulster, Dutchess).
Hochul is making necessary, historic investments in the state’s health care infrastructure as well as public education and isn’t just talking about affordable housing, but doing something about it.
She has proved an excellent steward of the state’s financial balance sheet, wisely looking ahead to when federal COVID stimulus funding dries up and the likelihood that when Republicans take control of the pursestrings, they won’t pass any more (Republicans have already blocked new COVID funding for vaccines, PPE and testing, despite repeated surges), and will likely revert back to withholding funding for New York and other blue states after climate disasters.
Another key target of Suozzi’s attack on Hochul is how she won the $600 million subsidy for a new $1.4 billion Buffalo Bills stadium. She defended the Buffalo Bills deal saying, “We structured a deal that is best for taxpayers—that stadium will be more than paid for in tax revenues and the economic benefit will far exceed the investment. It will create 10,000 new jobs – critically important to western New York. I understand people are questioning, but I represent a very large, diverse state. Every very part has its regional priorities. The Buffalo Bills is the identity of Western New York, the way Broadway is to New York City. The stadium deal makes sure the team will stay for 10 years.”
In point of fact, Hochul’s “selling point” is that she brings “a fresh and collaborative approach to governing and is working hard to get results for New Yorkers.” But, as the Buffalo Bills deal demonstrates, she also has proved herself to be no pushover, or (as the stereotype of women goes) “desperate” to win others’ approval, or blowing whichever way political winds blow, and yet being very responsive to what New Yorkers are asking for. (It is all there in her budget, which puts dollars to governance values and priorities.)
The third contender in the Democratic primary for Governor is Jumaane Williams, New York City public advocate. More like a local activist that someone who can helm a state the size of a country, he is much too narrowly focused (angry), zeroing in on redressing wrongs (while giving absolutely no credit for the last five years in which equity and justice were fundamental, or the fact that both the Assembly and Senate are not just controlled by Democrats but by blacks) and doesn’t seem to have a plan or vision for the state to grow sustainably or equitably.
Meanwhile, questions that need to be posed to any of the Republican gubernatorial hopefuls: which of the laws signed by Hochul – on gun safety, women’s rights, voting rights, climate change – would you seek to repeal and what is your plan to handle the next deadly pandemic?
Kathy Hochul deserves to be the Democrat candidate and to win the general election to continue as New York’s governor.
Early voting is underway until June 26; the primary election for governor, Lt. governor attorney general, state Assembly, judges and party positions is Tuesday, June 28.