MELVILLE – Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and his running mate, Kathleen C. Hochul, this morning accepted the Democratic Party’s nomination to head the party’s ticket this fall in a bid to keep Democrats in control of all statewide offices in the Empire State.
“New York is on the move and we ain’t going back,” Cuomo told a noisy convention gathering in a clear reference to Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino’s mantra that the state is “losing.’’
In his speech, Cuomo went through, as he does often at the Capitol and on trips around the state, a litany of what he considers his top accomplishments: rebuilding infrastructure, cutting the state’s deficit, giving new attention to upstate, and passing gay marriage rights and one of the nation’s toughest gun control laws.
“Government wasn’t working,’’ Cuomo said of the time when he took office four years ago.
Today, he said, he is confident he can look any New Yorker in the eye “and say we did what we were going to do.”
Four years ago, Cuomo lost all eight Western New York counties. In his speech, he boasted of the special attention he has given the region, including a promise to spend $1 billion to create jobs in the Buffalo area.
“It’s an investment that will pay dividends … I am proud of the investment we made in Western New York,” the governor said.
An hour earlier, Hochul was nominated by the party to be his lieutenant governor. “I’m ready to go. I’m ready to get out there,” Hochul, an Erie County Democrat, told a cheering crowd at a Long Island hotel.
Hochul, introduced by outgoing Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy, spent much of her time talking about Cuomo’s economic accomplishments in Western New York – a clear signal that the governor plans to use the former congresswoman as part of his effort to turn around his poor showing in the region four years ago.
“I humbly accept, with great pride and humility,” she told delegates of the nomination to run with Cuomo.
She is the first woman the Democrats have had on a statewide ticket in 35 years.
Hochul’s speech was part Democratic pep talk, and partly an effort to show she can be an attack dog on the campaign trail. She went after Republican gubernatorial nominee Rob Astorino, saying, without naming him, that he had “declared war on Buffalo.’’
Astorino has raised questions about whether Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion plan is the right way to turn around the region’s economy. But Hochul blasted him, saying criticizing the Buffalo Billion is like criticizing the Bills or Sabres.
An Astorino spokesman called Hochul’s comments “more exhausted ‘war on x’ language from Democrats. It has to stop. Anyone who thinks Western New York is winning right now can vote for Andrew Cuomo. But if you think Western New York is continuing to fall behind, you have to make a change.”
Hochul said she looks forward to joining Cuomo “to carry our message of hope … across this great state.”
She left the stage after her brief remarks to the song “Shout.”
Cuomo was nominated by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, with whom he has already had some notable policy battles since the mayor took office in January, and former President Bill Clinton, who was Cuomo’s boss when the governor was secretary of housing and urban development.
“New York is a better place than it was just four short years ago,’’ Clinton said, via a videotaped message.
In his relatively short, 28-minute speech, Cuomo mixed in a series of liberal and moderate themes, boasting of his SAFE Act and gay marriage laws while making cuts to middle-class income taxes. Not all of his claims have necessarily played out yet, such as his touting of a $2 billion surplus, which has not happened yet and is dependent on any number of factors, some of which are beyond his control.
The themes of the two campaigns are drawn in simple terms and based on Ronald Reagan’s old “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?’’ mantra. Astorino insists the state is losing rather than winning, while Cuomo said he will run on a record that has brought numerous – and he says positive – changes to Albany.
But Cuomo sought to give New Yorkers a political scare, saying they face the prospects of an “ultra-conservative social agenda’’ taking over Albany if Astorino wins. “This is a choice about how we see society, and our vision of how we relate to one another,” he said.