Kathy Hochul said Monday that a published report questioning whether she will stay on Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s ticket “reached new heights of absurdity.”
But Hochul also said a perception that she may need a boost at the polls would work in her favor.
Hochul is facing a challenge in next Tuesday’s primary election from Tim Wu, a Columbia University law professor, in her bid to be the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor. In the primary, the offices of governor and lieutenant governor are voted on separately.
Wu and his running mate, Zephyr Teachout, a Fordham University law professor who is challenging Cuomo, have raised a fraction of the funds that the governor has, and many voters do not even know who they are. However, Wu has won the endorsement of the New York Times and could be an alternative to the Cuomo-Hochul ticket for Democrats looking to send a message to the governor.
Meanwhile, the Cuomo campaign recently introduced a TV ad in which the governor appears with “Erie’s own Kathy Hochul” against a backdrop of Buffalo construction cranes – a development that contrasts with the New York Post’s report Monday that the Cuomo camp is considering removing Hochul from the ticket, fearing a Wu victory in the Democratic primary. Under that scenario, Cuomo could forfeit hundreds of thousands of votes in November on minor-party lines that would still list Hochul as his running mate.
According to the Post’s unnamed source, the Cuomo camp is considering dumping Hochul as an “outside possibility.” It could be accomplished by giving Hochul a judgeship, one of the few scenarios in which she legally could be replaced on the ballot.
“Now we’ve reached new heights of absurdity,” Hochul said of the report, before marching in the Labor Day parade in South Buffalo on Monday. “That’s way over the top, that’s false, and I always encourage people who are legitimate news reporters to check the source.”
Another Post article, posted Monday on its gossipy Page Six, stated that the Cuomo camp was in a “panic” that Wu would beat Hochul.
“If they want to cast me as an underdog, I embrace it, I relish it, and I say, ‘Bring it on,’ ” she said. “I feel the perception that I might need help, even though I feel very good, is actually going to increase the turnout here in Western New York, because that’s the sense I’m getting all over.”
The New York State Public Employees Federation has endorsed Teachout and Wu, while the Service Employees International Union, which represents hospital workers, has endorsed Hochul.
“Labor knows I was with them 100 percent as a member of Congress in a tough district. They know I stood with them, and they’re standing with me now, when I need them,” Hochul said. “So we’re going to get out the vote in ways that people do not anticipate. And so there’s going to be a lot of surprises and people realizing that they are underestimating someone who knows how to win.”