Friday, December 19, 2014

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

NY1 ItCH: What's Kathy Hochul's Line?

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As Kathy Hochul finds her way back onto the campaign trail today, Gov. Cuomo is giving his running mate a new mission: rack up the women's vote.

Before the candidate for Lieutenant Governor appears on "Inside City Hall" tonight for her first TV interview, she's set to announce the Cuomo team's plan to create another ballot line – "The Women's Equality Party."

Democrats who remember their fight for the Equal Rights Amendment are probably rolling their eyes right now but this move is the governor's attempt at trying to run up the score in his re-election bid this November. The Freudian political scientists in the house believe that Cuomo not only wants to beat Republican Rob Astorino in a landslide but also take on the legacy of his father, Mario, and win more than the 64 percent he got in his first re-election bid as governor in 1986.

Putting competitive father-son relationships aside, one piece of signature legislation that Cuomo has been unable to pass has been his Women's Equality Act – a ten-point bill that rankles some Republican State Senators because it would re-codify state abortion laws, moving them from the penal code to state Health Law. Supporters of the bill say that it only reaffirms Roe v. Wade into state law while opponents say it expands abortion rights.

Regardless of your legal interpretation of the act, the stalled legislation has given Cuomo a political weapon against Astorino, whose opposition to abortion has already been seized upon by state Democrats.
Hochul, who has been largely invisible since her nomination in May, now has a purpose beyond playing to her home Buffalo region: emphasize her gender in a political arena that's often dominated by grouchy Alpha males.

For his part, Astorino is launching a "Stop Common Core" ballot line that's sure to win the support of some education reformers. But there's something a little more visceral and satisfying about seeing "Women's Equality" on a ballot line when you've driven a station wagon filled with screaming kids to your polling site.

There will be plenty of other things for Hochul to talk about, including her endorsement from the NRA when she was up for re-election in 2012 and her fight against giving driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants when she was Erie County clerk.

But for now, Cuomo has given her another line. It will be interesting to hear how she delivers it.

Bob Hardt

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