Thursday, October 23, 2014

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NY1 Political Director Bob Hardt's daily look Inside City Hall.

NY1 ItCH: The Milk Carton Campaign for Lieutenant Governor

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Move over Waldo, the game of "Where's Kathy?" is still dragging on across New York State.

Things haven't changed much since June 10th when I noted that Governor Cuomo's running mate, Kathy Hochul, essentially has been AWOL from the campaign trail since she was nominated for lieutenant governor.

At the time, a Democratic party spokesman pointed out that Hochul, a former Congresswoman, had indeed held two public events since her nomination. But since May 31st, she's done, um, zero.
Gov. Cuomo yesterday dismissed talk that he's hiding Hochul as "silly."

"How absurd a theory is that," Cuomo told reporters in Manhattan. "I select a person to run on the ticket with me, who I don’t want anybody to know or see?"

But it's not a theory – it's largely been a weird reality.

The Buffalo News' Tom Precious writes today: " Hochul’s activities can be best tracked not with schedule alerts, but to her Twitter followers – and mostly after the events have occurred."

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz sounded like he'd won a political scavenger hunt over the July 4th weekend when he was marching in a local parade and Tweeted: "Look who I found in Cheektowaga @KathyHochul many parades for her".

Meanwhile, the GOP candidate for lieutenant governor, Chris Moss, is an Energizer bunny, running around the state and issuing a public schedule on a pretty regular basis.

There are all sorts of theories that Precious sorts through to explain why Hochul isn't being heard or seen much since her May coronation on Long Island. The best one is that by sending Hochul out on the campaign trail in any aggressive way, it's an acknowledgement by Cuomo that's he actually up for re-election this year.

At this point in the campaign season, I think more people in New York could actually name the four teams remaining in the World Cup (hint: Not USA) than know that Cuomo's name is on the ballot this November. And he probably likes it that way.

Far ahead in the polls and fundraising, Cuomo would prefer the re-election window to be small as possible because it eliminates the chance for "something to happen" while also giving little attention to his opponents on the right, Rob Astorino and Chris Moss, and his possible Democratic primary opponents, Zephyr Teachout and Tim Wu. Holding a campaign event actually notifies people in the middle of the summer that there's a campaign.

Besides being a statewide candidate for public office, Hochul is still supposedly busy with her day job at M&T Bank – which seems like an odd thing to be holding onto while you're supposed to be busy meeting voters.

But as my upstate colleague Liz Benjamin pointed out yesterday, staying under the radar creates a risk for Hochul should Tim Wu qualify for the primary ballot.

Candidates for lieutenant governor run on their own, meaning that there's no "Cuomo" above Hochul's name on primary day. That means that Cuomo could suddenly have a running mate named Tim Wu come November.

It might be time to stop playing games and start campaigning.


Bob Hardt

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