It all comes just months after she succeeded Andrew Cuomo, who stepped down amid a scandal of sexual harassment after nearly three terms in office, suggesting that Hochul is rapidly replacing the former governor as the most powerful person in New York politics.
If she wins, Hochul would be the first female-elected governor in New York’s history.
“She’s a tough chick from Buffalo,” said State Senator Diane Savino (D-State Island), who supported her last year. “I always said – from day one, when people assumed she would just be there temporarily and as a placeholder for [Attorney General] Tish James or someone else – I said, ‘do not underestimate her’. “
Hochul’s rise in New York, a hotbed of progressivism, offers a new test of the idea that moderates are the future of the Democratic Party – not the left.
Hochul’s early victories come as she runs as a mid-term Democrat from New York State, who has not had an elected governor from the region since the 1920s, and after the pro-business former police officer Eric Adams ran and won the mayoral post as moderate in it heavy blue New York City last year.
Hochul, who took conservative views when she was a local official and congresswoman, now appears ready to follow Adams to secure a full term.
“She has a big lead, and then she’s winning the money race, and she’s definitely winning the exposure increase,” said Douglas Muzzio, a professor of political science at Baruch College in Manhattan. “She’s starting to look like a man.”
Hochul had already scared his biggest political threat away ahead of the governor’s primary election in June: James, a star Democrat who had declared his candidacy in October, only to drop out less than two months later. James had received support on the left.
On Tuesday, a poll by Siena College showed that Hochul had a 34 percentage point lead over former New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who had considered running.
Just hours later, de Blasio said he would not participate in the race, as many expected he would do. De Blasio, a progressive who ended his second term as mayor in December, had already moved to set up a new political committee and hired half a dozen nationally known agents to help him with a potential bid.
“I do not intend to run for governor of the state of New York, but I will dedicate my whole being to fighting inequality in the state of New York,” de Blasio wrote on Twitter.
Then Hochul’s campaign said it had already raised a whopping $ 21.9 million to support its bid, breaking any previous record over a six-month period in New York.
By mid-morning, she had released a $ 216.3 billion state budget proposal that would leverage a massive revenue surplus to increase spending and provide record-high support for schools and tax breaks for homeowners this fall, around the same time as the general election.
The state does not expect an annual budget deficit until at least 2027, giving Hochul plenty of money to spread around.
“Kathy Hochul is doing a fantastic job, and that is reflected in a large number of polls and in her fundraising, as well as endorsements from unions and elected officials,” Democratic State President Jay Jacobs, who has supported her, said Tuesday. “People are gathering around her, and that’s clear today.”
Hochul’s path to a full four-year term is not without potential pitfalls. Another tip in Covid or an economic downturn could hurt her political fortunes.
She is also set to win a primary in June against two remaining Democratic enemies: Long Island Rep. Tom Suozzi, a moderate who has more than $ 5 million in his campaign account, and the progressive zealot Jumaane Williams, New York City’s public lawyer. Williams was unsuccessful four years ago when he ran against Hochul as lieutenant governor.
Hochul will also look to win the election amid what is expected to be a strong year for Republicans across the country. Her likely opponent is Rep. Lee Zeldin, a Republican from Long Island who has beaten Hochul for her Covid response and not be tougher on crime.
He has also tried to tie Hochul to the Cuomo administration, where she was not very close to the governor or his best aides despite being his deputy.
Zeldin said in a statement on January 4 that Hochul was in the Cuomo administration when thousands of elderly people died in nursing homes, “the dozens of women and others who were abused during the Cuomo-Hochul administration and the lives that was destroyed thanks to fear, intimidation and violent corruption. “
State GOP President Nick Langworthy described Hochul’s fundraising on Tuesday as “selling the state government out the back door. Clearly, she perfected the corrupt art of pay-to-play politics by using every trick she learned from her mentor Andrew Cuomo. “
But so far, Hochul has power over the governor’s office and much of the democratic apparatus in New York, and she promised to spend the next six months of the legislative session helping New Yorkers out of the pandemic, beginning with her budget falling due on the 1st. April.
“This is a moment of great opportunity, a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reconsider what is possible for our state,” Hochul said in his budget speech.
“And this is truly the beginning of New York’s next big comeback.”