Democratic Party rallies around new NY Gov. Kathy Hochul

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Gov. Kathy Hochul is the toast of the New York Democratic Party — at least for now.

The Democratic Party’s establishment is rallying around the “moderate-progressive” who on Tuesday replaced disgraced former Gov. Andrew Cuomo after he resigned amid a sexual harassment scandal.

Hochul has a very strong chance to get party leaders’ backing if she faces a primary challenge when she seeks re-election next year, the party’s state chairman said.

“The county chairmen I spoke to are very favorably disposed to Hochul. I’m talking about county leaders everywhere in the state,” said state Democratic Party chairman Jay Jacobs.

Jacobs said Hochul as lieutenant governor engaged in retail politicking over the past seven years, traveling the state and helping raise funds for local Democratic committees and supporting Democratic candidates.

“She volunteered to campaign in the streets for candidates all over the state. That builds good will,” Jacobs said.

Hochul, during her first speech as governor Tuesday, noted she’s travelled to all 62 of New York’s counties every year.

“You may not know me, but I know you,” she said.

Kathy Hochul has a very strong chance to get party leaders’ backing if she faces a primary challenge when she seeks re-election next year.
Hans Pennink/AP

Hochul has an opportunity to consolidate party support if she gets off to a good start — but she doesn’t have much time.

The state party convention will take place next January or February — before she even has an opportunity to approve her first budget with the Legislature.

The Democratic primary for governor is next June.

A number of Democratic candidates are eyeing a run for governor, including Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and some say possibly state Attorney General Letitia James, among others.

Jacobs said Hochul’s first two appointments to her administration — Karen Persichilli Keogh as secretary to the governor and Elizabeth Fine as counsel — were solid choices.

“I hope things go well for her. By historic precedent and tradition, the state party usually supports the incumbent governor,” Jacobs said.

But not always.

110718 Showing left to right: NY Senator Kevin Thomas, NY Senator Todd Kaminsky, Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs, NY Senator Anna Kaplan and NY Senator John Brooks. At the Nassau County Democratic Headquarter Chairman Jay Jacobs held a Pressconference with the newly elected Senators in a historic win, at 500 Old Country Road in Garden City, Nassau, NY.
State Democratic Party chairman Jay Jacobs (center) spoke highly of the new governor.
Brigitte Stelzer for NY Post

Former Gov. David Paterson, who took over for Eliot Spitzer after he resigned in a hooker scandal over a dozen years ago, is a cautionary tale.

His two two-year tenure as governor was so troubled that party leaders urged him not to run for re-election.

Jacobs praised Hochul as a practical center-left candidate and not too far left.

“You have to be a moderate-progressive to run statewide or you are going to have problems. Hochul is a moderate progressive,” Jacobs said.

Erie County Democratic Party Chairman Jeremy Zellner, Hochul’s local party leader, said, “Kathy has done a good job at building relationships across the state. Every county leader I’ve spoken to has expressed support for her.”

Meanwhile, Cuomo may be gone, but he could still be a political player.

Cuomo’s campaign committee is sitting on a war chest of $18 million in cash — and Jacobs said he wouldn’t be all that proud to accept a donation from the ex-governor to help fill the state’s party coffers.

Kathy Hochul was sworn in as governor of New York on Tuesday.
Kathy Hochul was sworn in as governor of New York on Tuesday.
Office of Governor Kathy Hochul

Cuomo was preparing to run for a fourth term before a state investigative report released by James found the ex-governor sexually harassed 11 women, including current and former staffers, which he has denied.

“Would I take some of that money? Of course I would,” Jacobs told The Post doubling down on comments he made to MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell and reported by Mediaite.com.

“I can share the wiring instructions with him if he would like,” Jacobs quipped in the MSNBC interview. “And my hope is that he is gonna remain a productive and positive force in the party and politics, and his help with those funds and other assets certainly would be something we would appreciate.”

Jacobs said he would dismiss critics who would argue that any donation from Cuomo is tainted.

“That’s a bit of a stretch. That’s nonsense,” he said.

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