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Hochul’s role as Clinton campaigner is growing

If there were any questions about the close relationship between Kathy Hochul and Hillary Clinton, they were settled last month at the Hyatt Regency Buffalo.

That’s when the lieutenant governor introduced the presidential candidate at the big fundraiser that gained about $400,000 for the Democrats’ leading presidential contender. After a relationship dating from Clinton’s Senate efforts and Hochul’s days as a member of the Hamburg Town Board, Hochul is now assuming another significant role as surrogate campaigner in the key early contests of Iowa and New Hampshire.

In fact, Hochul will stump through the Granite State this weekend for Clinton following earlier efforts in Iowa, according to a source close to the lieutenant governor.

“Whatever she wants,” Hochul told The Buffalo News late last month. “We were among the very first to support her.”

Hochul said she expects to spend more time in coming weeks campaigning for the former secretary of state, especially in nearby New Hampshire. She joins an increasingly vocal effort by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who also assumed an early role as a Clinton supporter. The lieutenant governor is expected over the weekend in New Hampshire to meet with Clinton supporters, attend functions, and explain the candidate’s role as a senator from New York.

Erie County Democratic Chairman Jeremy J. Zellner said that’s exactly the tone Hochul struck on Nov. 10 when she introduced Clinton before supporters who paid $1,000 or $2,700 to attend the Hyatt event.

“She spoke of the importance of electing the secretary as president,” Zellner said, “pointing to all the upstate issues she worked on – like helping the waterfront and Medical Campus.”

Zellner also said Hochul detailed her experiences earlier this year on the Clinton campaign trail in Iowa, site of the first presidential caucus on Feb. 1.

“Kathy’s ability to discuss the things the secretary worked on in our region is a big plus for her,” Zellner said.

The source added that the Clinton campaign is expected to pay for Hochul’s expenses in New Hampshire.