The Democratic primary for Lieutenant Governor is turning out to be closer- according to the polls, anyway, than the governor’s race. New York City Councilmember Jumaane Williams is challenging incumbent Kathy Hochul for the post.
Williams says he brings a different vision to the office. He says he wants to be independent and sees the lieutenant governor’s role as similar to the post of New York City Public Advocate, an elected position that is meant to represent the needs of the public. Williams says Hochul, the current Lieutenant Governor, has said she is the eyes and ears of the governor. William says he’ll be the “eyes and ears of the people”.
“Currently that position is a very expensive ribbon cutting office,” Williams said. “ But we have to have some more substance.”
Williams wants to end the schools to prisons pipeline, fight against gun violence and create better relationships between minority communities and the police.
Williams is running on a ticket with Democratic gubernatorial challenger Cynthia Nixon, and he’s optimistic that Nixon will be the next governor. But he says regardless of who wins that race, it won’t change his view of the lieutenant governor’s job, which he says is to “hold everyone accountable”.
“If this current governor believed in what he said, I’m the type of lieutenant governor that he would want,” Williams id. “But he does not thrive in accountability. He thrives in misinformation, deception, and headline-grabbing”.
Hochul, a Buffalo native who once held the congressional seat now occupied by indicted GOP Congressman Chris Collins, has spent the past four years tirelessly traveling the state and attending events on behalf of the governor. She was at the state fair at the end of August, where she says she backs many of Cuomo’s achievements, like a phase into a $15 minimum wage, and partial paid family leave.
“I clearly am Governor Cuomo’s running mate, we are both endorsed by the state party convention in May,” said Hochul who said she welcomes the primary challenge.
“It gives me an opportunity to let people know who I am and the work I’ve done as lieutenant governor for the past four years,” she said.
In a primary where the candidates are in competition over their progressive credentials, Hochul has been criticized for more conservative positions she held in the past. She received an A rating from the NRA in her 2012 congressional race when the group endorsed her over challenger Collins. And, when she was Erie County Clerk, she threatened to turn undocumented immigrants seeking driver’s licenses over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. Hochul says she now supports allowing the immigrants to get the licenses.
She says she wants to serve another four years because there’s a lot of unfinished business that needs to complete, like better-protecting abortion rights for women. And she, like Cuomo wants New York to be an alternative to the policies of President Trump.
“Regardless of what happens in our nation’s Capital, people can count on New York State as the birthplace of so many movements, including the women’s rights movement, that we will stand up for pole,”, said Hochul, who said she and the governor are spending a lot of energy on “fighting back against the Trump Administration”.
The current lieutenant governor has been spending most of her days lately campaigning in New York City, where until recently, she trailed Williams by nine points in the polls. She now has a six-point lead. Hochul is ahead of Williams in the downstate suburbs and upstate.