Governor Andrew Cuomo has picked Congress member Kathy Hochul as his running mate. Hochul replaces current Lieutenant Governor Bob Duffy, who chose not to seek re-election.
But last week, when various prognosticators were tossing out Hochul's name, I wasn't convinced she'd make the cut. Yes, Hochul's from Upstate, and Cuomo seemed to want a running mate from this end of the state. But she's from Erie County. And New Yorkers in Rochester and Syracuse — probably other communities, too — often seem frustrated with the amount of attention the Cuomo administration has given Buffalo. Cuomo's plan to invest $1 billion in state economic development resources there has been a particular irritation.
That said, Hochul is a good choice. She's held local and federal office, which means she has valuable political and government experience. And her private sector work — last year, M&T Bank hired her as a vice president of government relations — will undoubtedly be an asset.
But Hochul could also boost the ticket in a very practical way. Back in 2010, when Cuomo ran for his first term, he lost Erie County, and by no small margin. Voters gave the Republican ticket, led by Buffalo developer and conservative activist Carl Paladino, more than 176,690 votes to the Cuomo ticket's more than 113,400 votes. Paladino may have had the home-turf advantage, but Erie County's Democratic enrollment substantially outweighs its Republican enrollment.
It's a safe bet that Cuomo wants to win Erie this time around, and the Hochul pick is savvy in that regard.