Soon-to-be governor Kathy Hochul

Erie County

Kathy HochulSomeone from outside of New York State asked me what I thought of soon-to-be New York State Governor Kathy Hochul. The answer is that I had hardly thought of her at all. In fact, a month ago, if someone had shown me an unlabeled picture of her, it’s only about 50/50 that I would have been able to identify her.

This is a good thing, actually. She wasn’t tied at the hip to Andrew Cuomo, and has, so far, said the right things about cleaning house.

Daily Kos notes: “Hochul will be New York’s first governor from the Buffalo area since none other than Democrat Grover Cleveland, who won the top job in 1882 after a short stint as mayor. She’s also the first bona fide Upstate resident to hold the post since Republican Nathan Miller of Cortland County left office in 1922.”

From Buffalo to Albany

This upstate/downstate issue has been an issue in the state since approximately forever. Heck, where upstate begins – Poughkeepsie, maybe – is subject to debate. (And that doesn’t even count the people who’ve decided that Buffalo’s actually in the Midwest US because it’s closer to Detroit, Mi (255 miles/411 km) than New York City (374 miles/601 km).

Daily Kos: “As distant as her geographic roots are from the Queens-born Cuomo’s, so too does her personal style differ. As Roll Call’s Jim Saska puts it, ‘Where Cuomo was feared, Hochul is beloved; where Cuomo had judged, Hochul has empathized.'”

Her relatively conservative record when running for Congress a decade ago became a liability when running for lieutenant governor. She was primaried twice and did less well in her primaries than Cuomo did in his. I voted for her opponents both times. I picked in 2014 legal scholar Tim Wu, who lost 60-40, and in 2018, low-profile New York City Councilman Jumaane Williams, lost by only a 53-47 margin. So since I’ve not voted for Cuomo in 2014 or 2018, I’ve never voted for her.

Enough is Enough

Still, I’m very willing to give her a chance. After Andrew, she’ll be a refreshing change. She says she’s running for governor next year, and she absolutely had to announce that. If she didn’t, she’d be an instant lame duck. It’ll be a contentious primary in June 2022.

From the Times Union: “She has led Cuomo’s 10 regional economic development councils, chaired a task force on heroin and opioid abuse and addiction, and led the governor’s ‘Enough is Enough’ campaign to combat sexual assault on college campuses. She is married to William Hochul, the former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York, who is now in private practice. They are the parents of two children.”

The history community is excited to see her in the new job. As IHARE notes: “The incoming Governor is far better qualified… I say this not because she has a background in such history but because of her training in office. For the past few years, she has held what is routinely regarded as a ‘ceremonial’ position. As such she has spent a lot of time outside of Albany traveling to a multitude of local events. These events from time to time include history sites and conferences.

I wish Kathy Hochul good luck as the state’s first female governor.