Bill de Blasio Urges Liberals to Support ‘Courageous’ Kathy Hochul

Mayor Bill de Blasio today. (Photo: Ross Barkan)

Mayor Bill de Blasio today. (Photo: Ross Barkan)

Mayor Bill de Blasio and city Democrats rallied for Kathy Hochul on the steps of City Hall this afternoon, urging liberals across the state to support the moderate former congresswoman over a left-wing insurgent.

Mr. de Blasio, appearing with Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and a wide range of City Council members, enthusiastically endorsed Ms. Hochul, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s candidate for lieutenant governor, straining to show voters and the press that Ms. Hochul belongs to the same brand of progressivism that is now ascendant in the city.

“Kathy has been claimed to be an underdog many, many times, something I can personally relate to,” Mr. de Blasio said. “She’s been in a lot of tough political circumstances. She’s taken on a lot of tough fights. She’s not ever been afraid to challenge powerful forces.”

Mr. de Blasio praised the “courage” and “damn the torpedoes” verve she showed during her one term of Congress representing a heavily Republican district, pointing to how she supported Obamacare and opposed the rising Tea Party. “In her campaign, she campaigned overtly and openly against the Tea Party, against the Paul Ryan budget. That was not necessarily popular with everyone in her district. That was something that was gonna draw a lot of fire.”

Ms. Hochul fell to a Republican in 2012 and Democratic surrogates have used her defeat as a piece of her campaign pitch, depicting her as an unwavering liberal who paid the price for her honesty. “She did pay the price electorally but I think something we all know is that we don’t come here to win elections if the price of winning the election is giving away our values and our soul,” the mayor declared.

The press conference, drawing a throng of reporters the week before the Democratic primary, comes as the editorial boards of publications like the New York Times and New York Observer, along with several labor unions, buck Ms. Hochul in favor of Mr. Wu. Mr. Wu, a law professor running on a ticket with Zephyr Teachout, has a greater chance of defeating Ms. Hochul–who must run on her own apart from Mr. Cuomo–than Ms. Teachout does of knocking off Mr. Cuomo, an incumbent with a war chest north of $30 million.

Though Ms. Hochul carries a significant fund-raising advantage over Mr. Wu, state Democrats are worried that the law professor–well-known in certain tech and collegiate circles–can pull off an upset. Mr. Cuomo has avoided the campaign trail while Ms. Hochul has campaigned furiously, stumping with Democratic elected officials–and even Mr. de Blasio’s wife– in New York City where voters do not know her.

She and her allies wanted voters to know that the National Rife Association-approved lawmaker who once opposed drivers licences for undocumented immigrants is now palatable to New York’s progressives.

“We don’t need anymore gridlock. I’ve seen gridlock, I’ve seen gridlock on steroids in Washington D.C. We don’t need that in the State of New York–we need people working together, our lieutenant governor, our governor, our speaker and our mayor who know how to get the job done,” Ms. Hochul said.

“Together we can lead the way … out of poverty for millions of people by simply raising the minimum wage,” she continued, also underscoring her support for the Dream Act and the Women’s Equality Act as proof that she is in line with the likes of Mr. de Blasio and Ms. Mark-Viverito.

Still, she defended her record on guns in Buffalo, arguing she could support the needs of hunters in her own district with tamping down gun violence in urban areas. And she would not commit to repudiating the position she took on drivers licenses for undocumented immigrants last decade.

Mr. Wu’s name was only mentioned once throughout the event.

“I don’t know Tim Wu at all to be honest with you,” the mayor said. “But I know Kathy Hochul.”