Lieutenant governor candidate Kathleen C. Hochul is now squarely in the sights of the Democratic primary opponents challenging her and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.
Zephyr R. Teachout, who is mounting an increasingly vocal campaign against Cuomo as the Sept. 9 primary nears, joined with lieutenant governor candidate Tim Wu in a statewide conference call Monday to characterize Hochul’s congressional voting record as too conservative for New York’s Democratic voters.
Wu even labeled a series of votes in which Hochul voted with Republicans as “disqualifying.”
“She has repeatedly joined House leadership (in votes) designed to damage the White House and embarrass the administration,” said Wu, a Columbia University law professor. “That’s disqualifying for someone seeking the Democratic nomination in this state.”
A Hochul spokesman did not return a call seeking comment Monday. But a state Democratic Party official backed up Hochul’s party credentials by pointing to recent expressions of solid support from top House Democrats like Rep. Charles B. Rangel of Manhattan and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California.
The new assault on Hochul’s voting record is part of the belief among some Cuomo observers that the former Erie County clerk and one-term congresswoman could prove vulnerable in a one-on-one contest with New York City-based Wu. They say a low turnout in Hochul’s upstate base could help Wu as more left-leaning Democrats go to the polls in New York City in an election in which state residents vote separately for governor and lieutenant governor.
In an appeal to the left-wing voters who traditionally turn out for a Democratic primary, Wu and Teachout now plan several more criticisms in the next few days over Hochul’s stands against some immigration reform measures and in favor of gun rights.
Teachout said Hochul’s conservative positions reflect Cuomo’s “own Republican values as opposed to Democratic values.”
“His choice of Kathy Hochul as his running mate is another indefensible decision by the governor,” said Teachout, a Fordham University law professor who has garnered considerable labor support. “What this choice reveals to us is a governor who at his core is not a Democrat.”
The pair criticized Hochul’s congressional votes to hold Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in contempt of Congress for a rebuke pushed by Republicans seeking to probe the “Fast and Furious” gun-tracking operation but dismissed by most Democrats as a political stunt.
Wu noted the value Hochul allegedly placed on receiving support from the National Rifle Association.
He and Teachout also criticized Hochul for voting for the “openly anti-Obama” No More Solyndras Act, which ended federal energy loan guarantees, mostly to alternative energy companies. She was also criticized for voting to repeal funds for breast and cervical cancer screenings, which Hochul at the time said was linked to a student loan proposal.
Teachout was asked why Hochul should be criticized for reflecting the views of a suburban and rural congressional district with the heaviest Republican registration of any congressional district in New York.
“The question in a Democratic primary and a general election is where this candidate stands on the Democratic values of the state,” she said. “The question for Democratic primary voters is why Andrew Cuomo picked someone with a fairly conservative record to run as his running mate.”