This week The Jewish Press had a unique exclusive opportunity to peer into the rhetoric Governor Kathy Hochul uses when she addresses crowds of hard-core Democrats. At a political fundraiser held by the Albany County Democratic Committee in the Albany suburb of Colonie, Hochul used every way to stroke the egos of the attendees, who included rank and file committeemen, local leaders, county leaders, state Assemblymembers and Senators as well as the area Congressman, Paul Tonko. She spoke of these elected officials as her “partners in government.”
Hochul speaks unscripted and keeps her remarks brief – to about five minutes.
At this gathering she had two main messages – party unity and women officeholders. Again, leaving the message: white, Jewish men need not apply.
“This is all about unifying our party. There is no room for divisiveness,” Hochul told the loyal crowd. “We have the same objectives, the same goals, the same passion to fight for working men and women and that will never separate us. We may have a different approach once in a while but the Republicans want to draw a wedge between all of us and we will not let that happen. We are heading into November stronger than ever with an incredible slate of candidates.”
Next year might be different, and Hochul is preparing for an internal fight for governor. Her opposition is likely to come from two black hopefuls, New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and state Attorney General Letitia James. Even as Hochul called for party unity, she also said she’s ready for a fight.
“One job I have in addition to being your governor, which keeps me a little bit busy, is I’m also so proud to be the leader of the New York State Democratic Party,” Hochul said to no one’s surprise. “I’m going to wear that mantle with pride and to be there to support Democrats from the town level to the city level, county level, state and federal levels as well. We need Democrats to take back our country and to start fighting back in places like Texas that have no respect for women’s rights or reproductive health. We’ll take them on anywhere, my friends. I love a good fight. I love a good fight and you’re on that journey with me. So let’s get it done and it starts in places like this.”
In an effort to tell the party faithful who she is, Hochul went on to review her resume.
“I’ve been working for Democrats since I was in high school,” Hochul said before diverting to another topic – announcing how popular she has become. “Just this morning (Sunday, October 3) I was asked to speak to the Connecticut Democrats [via Zoom just prior to this Albany County picnic] and they wanted me to be honored at their Ella Grasso [Women’s Leadership Brunch] breakfast. Do you know why that mattered? She was the first woman elected governor in her own right in America and they said they wanted me to be part of that journey, that legacy, as well.”
To show she can relate to the average candidate and committee member, Hochul continued with her resume.
“I’ve been fighting since 1974, fighting for candidates. I know how hard it is. The work our committee people do, the petitions, the phone calls, the phone banks, the writing postcards, knocking on doors no matter what the weather is. I’ve gone through so many pairs of sneakers it’s not even funny.”
Don’t be surprised if Hochul shows up at your door campaigning with other candidates.
“I love meeting people at the doors and I’m going to continue doing that even as your governor,” Hochul said. “My staff knows that if they schedule more than a couple of hours of office time that is not a good day for me. I want to be out there with the people. I want to be out there with the candidates. I want to be out there fighting and letting people know that they have a government and a governor who gives a damn about them.”
Hochul began her remarks revealing that she is “sitting down in my really fancy Staybridge (Suites) Hotel in Colonie” where she spends “a lot of time together” with Democrats. Daily room rates are from $159-$183 per night, according to a hotel desk clerk who said the governor was not registered there. The governor does have free housing in a 41-room mansion near the Capitol. It’s not clear whether the unscripted governor was using the hotel as a political meeting place instead of the residence paid for by state taxpayers.
Hochul then spent the better part of an hour taking pictures and chatting with the attendees before taking off without taking questions from this reporter. However, I did get to take a picture with the seventh governor I had the honor of covering.