Things Are Working For Hochul

By Alan S. Chartock | March 12, 2022


Who’s on first?

We all knew that Andrew Cuomo wanted to be president. I doubt that Kathy Hochul has those aspirations, although you never know. Right now, there’s a lot to consider. New York used to be a jumping off place for career politicians who were looking for higher ledges to sit on. Hochul has a lot of middle-class people and politicians behind her, from Al D’Amato to the major business leaders. My bet is that these folks are not going to want to get into national politics.

Meanwhile, things are working for Hochul. There’s lots of money in the bank. She really doesn’t have to say no to crucial people. She is getting along with the legislative leaders who don’t have the blues from having to deal with Andrew, who they undoubtedly found difficult. You know that had to be the case because of their obvious readiness to impeach him.

Yet while Hochul leads in all the polls when compared with other possible challengers, she really isn’t a shoo-in in the ‘22 election and I have had reason to believe that her backers know that. The political types are, in large part, in her corner but clearly, the voter types are not thrilled with her even though she does whomp her competitors in head to head polling comparisons. Her one semi-serious competitor is Tom Suozzi who really wants to be governor,

Frankly, Suozzi’s persistence puzzles me. I get it that he thinks he can win. Maybe he thinks that Hochul is untested. Maybe he thinks she’s not tough enough, but one has to remember that Hochul had the guts to say no to Andrew Cuomo when he wanted to drop her from the lieutenant governor’s position on the ticket. She prevailed and that tells you a lot right there. But Suozzi is running out of time. I’m sure he knows that New Yorkers don’t get into Albany politics until the election is upon them. I’m equally sure that Suozzi is playing with fire. After all, Hochul is both a woman and an upstater. My feeling is that as the first woman, she has an advantage. After all, New York is a progressive state and should get credit and take pride in electing Hochul, but you never know.

To me, the major disadvantage facing Hochul and her followers is a sense that she is controlled by the inside crowd. A lot will depend on how Suozzi and any other opponents paint themselves. Just look at Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who beat a long time Democratic incumbent. Voters just don’t like the insiders who they feel control the game. Whether Suozzi is perceived as a rebel as opposed to just another congressman is something we will find out. A lot will depend on his ability to paint himself as anything but a same old-same old which is his real danger.

In the meantime, the Republicans are up the creek without the proverbial paddle. Their hellbent insistence on nominating Lee Zeldin as their candidate is, to put it mildly, really politically stupid. Zeldin is a Trumper and Trump is detested in New York. There will definitely be a primary and one of the candidates, Harry Wilson, is a moderate who will look good to New York’s moderate Republicans. The joker in the pack who will be running in the primary is Andrew Giuliani, son of you know who. If Zeldin is picked, he will not have a prayer. The question is whether Trump will be calling the shots among New York Republicans. I have my doubts, since he has recently disgraced himself by calling Vladimir Putin “a genius” for his actions in Ukraine. That may have cost Trump a great deal in New York and may turn off a lot of New York Republicans.

Anyway, right now it is Hochul’s to lose.

Alan Chartock is professor emeritus at the State University of New York, publisher of the Legislative Gazette and president and CEO of the WAMC Northeast Public Radio Network. Readers can email him at [email protected]