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Williams: Hochul has turned job into 'very expensive ribbon-cutting office'

ALBANY – A day after his endorsement by Sen. Bernie Sanders, lieutenant governor candidate Jumaane Williams on Tuesday stood outside a low-income apartment building near the state Capitol to bash the policies of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul as not progressive enough for New York.

Williams, a New York City councilman from Brooklyn, said Hochul has turned the lieutenant governor’s office into an adjunct bureau of the governor.

“Currently, that position is a very expensive ribbon-cutting office …We have to have some more substance," Williams said.

The councilman, who is already running for the lieutenant governor’s office on the Working Families Party ballot line, criticized Hochul for in the past saying that she has been Cuomo’s “eyes and ears."

“I want to be the eyes and ears of the people in New York. That is what this office can and should be," Williams said. He has said he envisions the office to serve as an activist ombudsman for New Yorkers and to hold the governor accountable for the actions of the state’s chief executive.

Hochul's campaign declined comment.

“If the governor really believed … in what he said, I’m the type of lieutenant governor he would want. But he does not thrive in accountability. He thrives in misinformation, deception and headline grabbing whatever he can say at that moment in time,’’ Williams said.

Cuomo allies are fearful that if Williams wins and the governor is re-elected, he might inherit a second-in-command who does not owe Cuomo political loyalty or any favors. Williams would not directly say if he would campaign with Cuomo if both men win on Thursday, preferring to insist that he believes activist Cynthia Nixon will win the Democratic gubernatorial primary.

Williams said whatever the outcome on Thursday, there needs to be assurances that the Working Families Party “is stable and strong."

“The governor and lieutenant governor and their team have done whatever they can to try to destroy the Working Families Party," Williams said, who has run for office four times with the backing of the small but influential and liberal party.

It's not certain that Nixon will run an active general election campaign on the WFP line if she loses to Cuomo.

A Siena College poll out this week showed Hochul leading Williams 43-21 percent; it said one-third of likely Democratic voters are unsure how they will vote.

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