Kathy C. Hochul
BACKGROUND: Hochul, 60, began her political career as a town board member in the western New York community of Hamburg in 1995, rising to Erie County clerk in 2007, where she gained notoriety for opposing Gov. Eliot Spitzer, a fellow Democrat, on the issue of allowing immigrants in the country illegally to obtain driver’s licenses. In 2011, she won a special election to fill a congressional vacancy in a conservative suburban Buffalo district. But she was ousted in the next election cycle by Rep. Chris Collins. In 2014, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo chose her to be his running mate as lieutenant governor. Earlier this year, Cuomo tried and failed to persuade her to run for her old congressional seat. She is married to William Hochul, who served as the U.S. attorney for Western New York from 2009 to 2016. They have two children. She has a bachelor’s degree from Syracuse University and a law degree from Catholic University of America.
ISSUES: Once considered a conservative Democrat, Hochul has moved to the left since becoming Cuomo’s lieutenant, particularly in supporting driver’s licenses for those in the country without documents. But she says she has always backed progressive issues, including abortion rights, gay rights, the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), a higher minimum wage and paid family leave. Like Cuomo, she touts her experience as giving her an edge over her progressive challenger. She notes she led the governor’s task force on opioid addiction and was chairwoman of his regional economic development councils. She has chided her opponent, Jumaane Williams, for releasing just one year’s worth of income tax returns and being in personal debt because of a failed business.