Kathy Hochul: ‘I Would Not Be Making Policy’ as Lieutenant Governor

Kathy Hochul on Inside City Hall. (Screenshot: NY1)

Kathy Hochul on Inside City Hall. (Screenshot: NY1)

If you don’t like her stance on certain issues, don’t worry—she won’t be voting on them.

As former Congresswoman Kathy Hochul sought to clarify her views on issues like immigration and gun control in her first sit-down television interview, she pointed out her role as Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s lieutenant wouldn’t include making policy.

“People have to understand the role of lieutenant governor. I would not be making policy now, I am there to support the administration,” Ms. Hochul told Inside City Hall’s Errol Louis on NY1 last night. “And, certainly, people have a right to know where I stand on issues, that’s fair game. But they also have to understand I would not cast a vote—I would not have a say in something like this, unless as you mentioned, it comes to a tie in the senate.”

The remark came as the two were discussing immigration issues—specifically, Ms. Hochul’s opposition to granting driver licenses to undocumented immigrants—and Mr. Louis interjected that, surely, the governor would ask for her opinions on issues.

“I would certainly be giving my opinion to the governor, but that would be in private conversations,” she said.

As to that matter of breaking ties in the State Senate, something Mr. Louis speculated she might be in a position to do more often than her predecessors, Ms. Hochul said she hoped it wouldn’t come to that.

“I hope it doesn’t get that close,” she said, adding she had just met with Democratic Leader Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and was confident she’d lead a large enough Democratic majority in the fall to pass key legislation.

Ms. Hochul, who has been knocked by both the Republican gubernatorial ticket and her primary challengers for not being visible during the campaign, spent much of the interview seeking to clarify her stances on issues like immigration and gun control, on which past positions have leaned further right than much of the Democratic establishment in the city. It was a process she began earlier in the day Thursday while talking to reporters following the announcement of a “Women’s Equality” party, when she also defended her presence on the campaign trail.

She sought again on Inside City Hall to explain her opposition while county clerk to the driver licenses, saying she was concerned about terrorism creeping over the Canadian border.

“As much as I value individual rights, I also, as an elected official, am concerned about national security,” she said.

But she said she had spoken to State Senator Jose Peralta, architect of the bill, in recent days: “He has said there have been modifications based on these concerns. Absolutely, I’m wiling to listen, find out what concerns are there still, and how we abate them.”

Ms. Hochul also touted her support for other immigrant issues—the Dream Act and rights for migrant farm workers. She deferred to New York City when it came to municipal I.D.s, she said, but when asked if it would work in Eerie County, said it wasn’t something people there had been clamoring for.

On gun control, Ms. Hochul said her support of the Safe Act, the state’s gun control law, was not inconsistent with her support of the rights of sportsmen to own guns. But she doubted she’d retain her A-rating from the National Rifle Association, and bemoaned its role in scuttling background check legislation in Congress, which came up for a vote after she’d lost her seat.

“I thought that was a disgrace. It was a national disgrace that they wouldn’t even support, after the slaughter of children in a school, they wouldn’t support background checks,” she said. “So I doubt I’d get that rating now.”

Ms. Hochul said she’d be in the spotlight more once she soon resigns from her bank job, and mentioned an upcoming event on Staten Island.