ALBANY — Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul dismisses talk that she will not run as Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s running mate and instead challenge Republican U.S. Rep. Chris Collins this fall as “political fodder of the chattering class.”
"My choice is to continue on as lieutenant governor and to run for re-election with the governor and not be distracted by individuals who would like me to consider beating Chris Collins this year,’’ Hochul said in an interview with The Buffalo News.
Stories have swirled this week that some Democrats want Hochul to step aside and run against Collins, a move that has led to stories about Cuomo tapping Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren as a running mate.
The Hochul speculation rose again Tuesday when Cuomo’s top staff member, Melissa DeRosa, said in a radio interview that Cuomo is definitely seeking a third term. When asked twice, she would not say if Hochul would be running again, saying that’s an announcement for Hochul to make.
Also, Cuomo is expected to face a primary challenge from a more liberal wing of the Democratic Party.
In an interview at her Capitol office Wednesday afternoon, Hochul twice was asked if Cuomo has asked her to run with him again this year. She declined both times, but said she was with Cuomo Tuesday evening — after he unveiled his 2018 budget plan — to discuss “continuing my effort” to represent the governor’s agenda.
“Just because other people have determined they want to jump into the fray does not mean we’re going to expedite our timetable to do more formal announcements with more fanfare the way we choose to do it. That’s coming down the road,’’ she said of Cuomo and Hochul formally unveiling their campaigns to run for another term as governor and lieutenant governor."
As for running against Collins, she said:
"I know that’s an option. I’ve been approached and I’ve been firm in my position all along that if it’s something I wanted to do, I assure you I’d know how to do it. I would be running. I would have the resources and we’d have a path.’’
Hochul lost her congressional seat to Collins in the 2012 election.
She did not volunteer who is pushing her to drop her statewide post for a run against the Republican congressman. But she said it’s not Cuomo.
“I will confirm the governor has not asked me to,’’ she said.
Hochul said she has “so embraced” her current job.
“I’m still very much the voice of the administration to help people understand where the governor is trying to take this state and continue the great work he’s done. That’s my role and I embrace it,’’ she said.
If people are trying to get her off a statewide ticket this fall, Hochul indicated she’s not budging.
“This is just political fodder of the chattering class and other individuals who like to hallucinate scenarios. It’s a great pastime of people in politics and the media,’’ Hochul said.
Brooklyn Councilman Jumaane Williams, a Cuomo critic, has recently announced he is considering a primary run against Hochul.
“There will probably be more, truly. It’s New York,’’ Hochul said of the prospect of facing a primary challenge for her job.