Here's Hochul

A primer for anyone who didn't know her name two weeks ago

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In 13 days, when Andrew Cuomo officially leaves office, Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul will become the first female to hold New York’s top executive seat, making her the latest woman to shatter a glass ceiling after the guy who used to be on the ceiling turned out to have his dick pressed against it. Congratulations, Kathy.

In recent years, Hochul has cut a relatively low profile in New York politics, so low that some may require a helpful phonetic resource before speaking her name. But this was not always the case — the future governor has been hanging around the Empire State’s elected offices for decades, and serving in them for a quarter century. After working as an aide to Sen. Daniel Moynihan and Rep. John LaFalce in the early 1990s, Hochul served on the Town Board of Hamburg, New York from 1994 to 2007, moving up to deputy county clerk and then county clerk in Erie County, before running in a closely watched congressional race in 2011. She held that seat for two years, got ousted in 2013, and linked up with Cuomo in 2014. Here are some Hochul highlights.


As an undergrad at Syracuse University, one New York Times profile raves, Hochul was “something of an activist.” Her achievements included “leading a boycott of the college bookstore after students complained that the store was charging outrageously high prices” and persuading the college to name its stadium after “Ernie Davis, the legendary Syracuse running back who died of leukemia at a young age.” Sure, at the time South Africa was still an apartheid state and the U.S. had just vetoed a U.N. resolution calling for an independent Palestine, but she was just one woman. As one classmate recalled about the stadium, “She was nervous, but she knew what needed to be done.”


Before serving on the Hamburg, New York Town Board herself, Hochul was a vocal resident — who spoke out against the board’s vote to approve construction on a Tim Horton’s Donut in town. “I am deeply disappointed in the board,” Hochul told The Buffalo News at the time. The Canadian chain was not the only object of her wrath; Hochul also protested the invasion of Walmart — though that didn’t last once she was elected. In 2009, she agreed that the corporation could come to town on the condition that it “looked nice.” Here’s The Buffalo News:

The neighborhood includes the nearby Brierwood Country Club. Red brick. Pillars at the entrance. Peaked roof. Town officials got Walmart to build a store that looked like a country club...Kathy Hochul, then on Hamburg's town board, saw nice-looking Walmarts on family vacations to the Southwest and Hilton Head. She took pictures. She told board members that they could get Walmart to build a nice-looking store here, too.


In 2007, when then-New York governor Eliot Spitzer proposed a policy that would allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses, and thus drive legally, Hochul lead the opposition against the policy, invoking 9/11 and calling for a special hearing. “I do not support the governor’s plan to give driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants,” she told a crowd, who reacted with “whooping cheers” and applause. “I have a problem with that, ladies and gentlemen.” While some clerks claimed they would refuse to enforce the policy, according to the New York Times, Hochul went farther.

If anyone comes to the main clerk’s office seeking a license with a foreign passport but without a valid visa stamp, Ms. Hochul said, she will process the application — and then pass the person’s name on to the county sheriff as a possible violator of immigration law.

Spitzer later said clerks would have to comply with the law. Hochul responded in a written statement: "I guess cronyism and partisan politics in Amherst are more important than stopping illegal immigrants getting driver's licenses.”


In 2011, following the resignation of New York Representative Chris Lee, Hochul ran for the seat in a tightly-contested three-way race, against Republican candidate Jane Corwin and a Tea Party wildcard named Jack Davis. Corwin had the upper hand — outgoing Rep. Lee had been a Republican in a district that went for John McCain in 2008. But Davis, who blew $1.7 million of his own cash on the race, scored enough of the vote to cut into Corwin’s lead, despite his patently insane ads and the fact that he slapped one of her aides on camera. In footage of the incident, the 78-year-old delivers his devastating blow with an equally forceful threat: “You want punched out?”


Much like presumed Mayoral-elect Eric Adams and the majority of the New York Police Department, Kathy Hochul did not live in her own jurisdiction when she ran to represent New York’s 26th District. As a result, per the New York Times, this happened:

The problem is this: because she lives in a village just outside the borders of New York’s 26th Congressional district, Ms. Hochul cannot vote in her own election.


In some of Hochul’s campaigns during the late 2000s, The Buffalo News reported, her father, John P. Courtney, then the president of a technology company, forgave “$110,000 in campaign loans.” Around the same time, Hochul loaned herself $52,000. During the 2011 race, Hochul’s opponents took heat for self-funding the majority of their campaigns. Hochul raised comparatively more from small and large donors, but still managed to put in $250,000 of her own cash.


Just 22 days before Hochul’s tight special election, when she led with just single-digit margins in the polls, Gov. Andrew Cuomo was asked if he planned to endorse her against the two Republicans. Cuomo responded with a dodge: “Any other questions besides political questions.”


After taking office, Hochul’s husband started helping her train to join the Congressional women’s softball team. According to Politico, she attended a Batavia Muckdogs game in her district and “asked the players for pointers.” Here’s what she said: “I don’t want to throw like a girl.”


In 2012, Hochul voted with Republicans on a resolution to hold then-Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt for failing to disclose documents from the Department of Justice in accordance with a subpoena. Specifically, the subpoena concerned an undercover sting operation to find illegal gun smugglers in Arizona called “Operation Fast and Furious.” GOP politicians accused Holder of overseeing a “cover-up;” Obama called the vote an act of “political theater rather than legitimate Congressional oversight,” and blocked the subpoena by executive privilege. But Hochul’s vote had special significance, in part because the National Rifle Association had announced they planned to grade politicians based on their vote — three months later, they endorsed her. Via New York State of Politics:

Hochul’s campaign says this endorsement is consistent with her record on Second Amendment issues, noting that during her time as Erie county clerk, she streamlined the government’s permit application process and provided gun shows with the staff and technology needed to ensure that sales went through quickly and safely. While in Congress, the statement maintains, Hochul has fought to strengthen the rights of gun owners traveling from state to state and to open public lands to hunting and fishing.

Two years later, when Cuomo tapped Hochul to run as his lieutenant, The Buffalo News suggested she lent him some anti-gun control bonafides:

Besides geographic ticket balancing for an otherwise all-downstate slate for the party’s three other statewide campaigns, Hochul offers some cover for Cuomo on a still-burning issue in many upstate communities: gun control. In her 2012 congressional race, she was endorsed by the National Rifle Association, whose leaders have been highly critical of Cuomo’s SAFE Act gun control bill passed last year.


He said this, a normal thing to say about your female running mate:

“I think there’s a chemistry between us,” Cuomo said of Hochul, whom he said he did not know very well — as was the case with his outgoing lieutenant governor, Robert Duffy, before he was tapped four years ago. “Part of this is personal. I spend a lot of time with this person,” Cuomo said of the lieutenant governor. “I have a good feel for her and feel a natural connection with her, so I feel good about that,”


The reason New York held a special election in 2011, opening a seat for Hochul to win and putting her in a position to ascend to the governor’s mansion, is because the earlier version of this gossip website wrote a post about then-Rep. Christopher Lee, which led to his resignation not long later. A quick refresher: Lee was a Republican politician who spent his brief time in Congress opposing federal abortion funding, supporting “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and voting against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which made it easier to combat discriminatory pay policies. The post concerned the fact that Lee, who was married with a child, had posted shirtless mirror selfies on Craigslist’s “Women Seeking Men” forum and exchanged messages with a woman on there — it later proved to be several women. In the messages, he claimed to be divorced, a lobbyist, and “39.” He was 46. It remains unclear whether Hochul likes new Gawker.