Kathy Hochul hasn’t even assumed her governorship yet and progressives are already planning to oust her.
The bigger they are, the harder they fall- and the more collateral damage they cause when they do, it must be said.
Exhibit A- see Andrew Cuomo.
Governor Cuomo is gone- well, not entirely- but he is certainly not forgotten. Nor is the fallout from his shocking resignation in any way over for the Democratic Party. On the contrary, the ignoble departure of New York’s once-popular Governor has created as many problems as it solved, perhaps more.
Yes, female public servants in New York are now safe from the politician so many progressives and celebrities toasted with cringeworthy nicknames such as the “Luv Guv” and “Cuomosexual” last year.
But a criminal investigation into the potential crimes of Andrew Cuomo, including attempts to silence those trying to blow the whistle on his predations, remains ongoing.
As does the possibility he may yet face impeachment- or worse.The sexual harassment scandal isn’t the only problem New York’s soon-to-be ex-governor is likely to face. The other shoe is still waiting to drop.
Questions, and serious ones, remain about Governor Cuomo’s disastrous nursing home policy and the extent to which his administration concealed the true number of nursing home deaths for political purposes.
The New York AG found that Gov. Andrew Cuomo, to avoid criticism from Donald Trump, underreported nursing home deaths in New York by a whopping 50%. On the heels of these two AG reports, members of Cuomo’s Administration are still likely to face serious political consequences for their role in the governor’s malfeasance.
That the Cuomo Administration certainly included his Lieutenant Governor, Kathleen Hochul, is the first bone of contention for progressives unhappy with this choice.
Thus far, New York’s first female governor has done extremely well in distancing herself from Andrew Cuomo’s spectacular fall from grace, insisting the two weren’t friends and didn’t work closely together.
Her assertions are backed up by no less an authority than Andrew Cuomo himself. He didn’t include Hochul in his now infamous COVID-19 press briefings over the past 18 months. In Cuomo’s recent book, while praising his own leadership during the pandemic and cashing in on his surge in popularity, he didn’t mention Hochul.
Which is lucky for her.
Buyers remorse about Andrew Cuomo is running high in progressive circles.
Are progressives merely taking this buyer’s remorse out on New York’s first female governor? Or do they have other reasons for opposing Gov. Hochul right out of the gate?
In her first statement following Cuomo’s resignation, after promising a less toxic work environment than that provided by her predecessor, the Governor-to-be professed to be ready and able to seamlessly take over the governorship.
“As someone who has served at all levels of government and is next in the line of succession, I am prepared to lead as New York State’s 57th governor,” Hochul assured her fellow New Yorkers.
After a certain amount of grumbling that they had no say in this matter, progressives, perhaps remembering that they did indeed vote for Ms. Hochul when they voted for Andrew Cuomo, turned their attention instead to her record in politics.
The crux of the progressive argument against her record boils down to three things- and none of them have to do with Andrew Cuomo.
First, progressives in New York are still deeply upset about a stance Hochul took when the subject of issuing driver’s licenses to undocumented people was raised during Eliot Spitzer’s term in office.
“I support him on the environment; I support him on worker’s comp reform; I support him on job creation; I support what he’s doing on the waterfront here,” Ms. Hochul said at the time: “But this is an issue I disagree with him very strongly on. I do not support the governor’s plan to give driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants. I have a problem with that.”
Now, progressives have a problem with Ms. Hochul.
The second subject about which New York progressives have no patience with Hochul is her favorable rating with the National Rifle Association. Not only has she received the endorsement of the controversial gun rights group, as a Congresswoman she received their highest rating.
“Kathy Hochul has a proven record of defending the Second Amendment,” reported Buffalo News in 2012, quoting then-NRA chairman Chris Cox. “Because of her strong support of our rights, Hochul has earned an ‘A’ rating and endorsement.”
That ringing endorsement, and her defense of the rights of hunters and sportsmen, may cement her bona fides as a moderate Democrat but it does not endear her to progressives in the slightest.
The third matter upon which New York’s newest governor has fallen afoul of progressives, thus far anyway, concerns her husband and his work for one of the biggest gambling interests in New York. Hochul’s critics have pointed this out as a potential conflict of interest, but the Hochul Administration is already taking great pains to mitigate it.
Moderate Democrats may be taking these progressive criticisms with a grain of salt.
It must be noted that the new creed of far-left progressivism is much more reductionist than the old one, and not every voting Democrat agrees this is for the best.
Under the rules of this strict new hierarchy, unwavering devotion to the tenets of the progressive faith- all of them- is the minimum requirement for entry. Gone from the ranks of Democratic Socialists are the pro-life Democrats, blue dog Democrats, pro-Israel Democrats and religiously conservative Democrats.
For new progressives, it’s all or Nazi.
That New York’s first female Governor doesn’t meet this rigid new criteria means she will almost certainly face a more progressive opponent the primary when she runs for the office in her own right once Andrew Cuomo’s term is officially up.
Will new Governor Kathleen Hochul be able to rise above the partisan bickering?
Thus far, the new Governor is maintaining a low-profile in the press, declining to be interviewed this early in the transition, even by the New York Times- which is very wise. Her restraint proves she is focused on governing- not dishing the dirt on Andrew Cuomo, though doing so at the moment would afford her plenty more than 15 minutes of fame.
She seems to be a committed, studious public servant with little interest in being “America’s Governor” and even less in the limelight or a six-figure book deal. That she has spent her career of service flying under the radar, surviving and even thriving as a moderate Democrat from a conservative district, speaks well of her qualifications.
Progressives should note too that Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, unlike so many other Democrats in Cuomo’s orbit, did not wait for the AG’s report to give the Governor’s accusers her unwavering support. That she did so early, unequivocally, and publicly- at great risk of incurring the wrath of Andrew Cuomo at the height of his power, which indeed she likely did as it has been reported the two haven’t spoken since February- speaks volumes.
Hochul has already been called the “Anti-Cuomo” and has proven herself time and again to be a public servant guided by her own moral compass.
She doesn’t wait to see how the wind is blowing. And that alone is a breath of fresh air in politics.
(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)