NEW YORK – To hear New York City mayor and progressive hero Bill de Blasio tell it, Western New York’s Kathy Hochul is the right Democratic choice for lieutenant governor in Tuesday’s primary.
But another hero of the progressive movement, actor-turned-“fractivist” Mark Ruffalo, said de Blasio couldn’t be more wrong – and that Hochul’s opponent, Columbia University law professor Tim Wu, is the better choice because he’s more to the left on environmental issues.
The competing endorsements dominated Wednesday’s events on the campaign trail in the heated Democratic race for lieutenant governor, as de Blasio and Ruffalo held news conferences with their favored candidates an hour apart.
At noontime on the steps of City Hall, de Blasio defended Hochul as an experienced leader with a progressive vision – despite the New York Times’ recent description of her as a conservative. She also received the support of 20 members of the City Council, many of whom attended the news conference.
“In one of the most Republican districts in New York, Kathy held true to our core Democratic values, including fighting against Paul Ryan’s tea party budget and for a woman’s right to choose and raising the minimum wage,” de Blasio said.
Of course, while serving in Congress in 2011 and 2012, Hochul also opposed gun-control measures and parts of “Obamacare” – moves that fit in with the conservative district she was representing at the time.
But de Blasio said Hochul’s congressional votes didn’t bother him. “I don’t expect to agree with every candidate on every issue,” he said.
What he said he expected, though, is a lieutenant governor who can work with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and be prepared, if necessary, to serve as governor.
An hour earlier, though, on the steps of the Tweed Courthouse, Ruffalo – known for his role as “The Hulk” – said, “It’s a little shocking that a few blocks away from here, one of the great liberal politicians in the United States is actually going to be endorsing Hochul.”
Ruffalo said he supported Zephyr Teachout, the Fordham University law professor who is Cuomo’s progressive opponent in the primary for governor, and Wu because they have – unlike the governor and Hochul – taken a clear stand against the controversial natural gas extraction process called hydrofracking.
Wu has criticized Hochul for her support of the Keystone oil pipeline and for House votes that would have weakened the Clean Water Act.