Before ducking a Democratic primary debate on Inside City Hall Wednesday night, Governor Andrew Cuomo's running mate, Kathy Hochul, tried to bolster her liberal credentials by getting the backing of Mayor Bill de Blasio. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.
Although Kathy Hochul is the governor's running mate, she runs separately from him on the ballot in next Tuesday's primary. That's creating concerns in the governor's camp that the little-known former congresswoman could lose to a political newcomer, Tim Wu.
While Hochul had a chance to raise her profile and debate Wu Wednesday night on NY1, she turned the invitation down. Instead, she's banking on the help from a left-leaning mayor.
"I know Kathy Hochul. I've watched her work for a while," said Mayor Bill de Blasio. "I remember vividly when she first ran how many doubting Thomases there were out there, but she pulled it off. That showed me a lot. She stuck to her guns, and that's the kind of person we need as lieutenant governor."
Zephyr Teachout, who is running against Cuomo next week, downplayed de Blasio's endorsement.
"I'm thrilled that Bill de Blasio is my mayor, I supported him, but he is wrong on this," Teachout said. "Kathy Hochul's a conservative. She's anti-immigrant, she's a bank lobbyist, and Tim Wu fights for all New Yorkers and will fight for all New Yorkers as the lieutenant governor."
Teachout and Wu also rolled out an endorsement for their insurgent campaign. Actor Mark Ruffalo, an environmentalist, threw his support behind their ticket for pushing a ban on the controversial natural gas extraction procedure known as fracking. Cuomo hasn't decided whether to allow fracking in New York State and says the issue is still under review.
"I'm not here really to bash the governor. I think he's done some really great things as far as renewable energy goes in this state," Ruffalo said. "I wish to see him take some more leadership."
Hochul has been criticized for her conservative views, including opposition to driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants.
"You call me anti-immigrant at your own peril. That is not true," Hochul said. "I have a history of being in this arena and fighting for people all my life."
Elected officials who support the Cuomo-Hochul ticket said they don't foresee any scenario where Wu could actually win the primary. However, others noted that primary elections are tricky, depending on who actually votes. This could be a lot tighter than some are anticipating.