I’ve written a number of positive posts about New York Governor Kathy Hochul in the past. She was a breath of fresh air after Andrew Cuomo resigned, and during the first year she served as governor, she signed a lot of good legislation and generally came off as a mainstream Democrat. I thought she’d continue to bring her “Irish Grandmother from Buffalo” energy to the job and probably be a pretty decent governor.
Unfortunately, she ran a pretty terrible election campaign, winning by a little under 6 points, which is, for New York, a very tight race. (New York Democrats ran terrible campaigns in general, and I’ll have a some comments on that in a future post.) After winning her race, Hochul stalled on signing a right-to-repair bill, and added a signing statement to the bill that undermined it. She also vetoed two pieces of labor legislation, one legislating requirements for payment for freelancers, and the other around disclosure of pay by gender and race for state contracts.
She also decided to go to the mattresses for Hector LaSalle, her choice to lead the state court system, even though he had a record of being “pro life” (i.e., anti-abortion) and not being a big supporter of labor. Stephen Robinson has a good rundown of the problems with the appointment at Wonkette, so I’ll spare the details. Keep in mind that the LaSalle appointment is especially galling to Democrats who just lost Congressional seats in part because Cuomo’s conservative judges struck down Democrats’ redistricting plan, which resulted in a dream redistricting for Republicans. As Robinson points out in his piece, this isn’t a “progressive vs mainstream fight” — abortion rights are a core Democratic position, one Hochul has been previously loud and proud about, and it’s simply disqualifying for someone who’s going to lead our courts to have anything but a clear pro-abortion stance.
Hochul lost the LaSalle fight yesterday when his appointment wasn’t voted out of committee in the New York State Senate, where Democrats have a supermajority. Hochul seems to want to keep digging by filing a lawsuit to force a floor vote on the appointment, but at some point I hope she’ll realize that his appointment is dead.
By the way, Hakeem Jeffries also supported LaSalle, even though a large majority of Democrats in the New York State Senate did not. LaSalle would be the first Latino in his position, which probably explains some of the support he’s getting, but I’m sure there’s some other qualified Latino who is more to the left of this guy.
I don’t have a clear reason why Hochul decided that her lackluster election performance somehow justified signing statements, vetoes and a bad appointment, but there’s no evidence that New Yorkers want that. I have some guesses, one being that she said the right things to the leadership of the Democratic Party, including that she’ll nominate LaSalle, and in return that leadership might have dissuaded some possible challengers. Or maybe this is just who she is, and she decided that she’d show her true colors after the election. Either way, I hope to be voting for her primary challenger next time around, assuming that someone decent challenges her. This LaSalle fight almost guarantees that she will be challenged, if she decides to run again, because there’s nothing inspiring or good about her campaign or her behavior after it.