Cuomo-Hochul Beat Teachout-Wu in Primary
Cuomo-Hochul Beat Teachout-Wu in Primary

NEW YORK—Andrew Cuomo got the running mate he prefers, as Kathy Hochul beat Tim Wu in a heated primary contest for Democratic lieutenant governor that saw the powers of the establishment triumph over that of grass-roots politics. Cuomo also won handily, beating Zephyr Teachout for the nomination for governor.

With 48 percent of precincts reporting, Hochul was comfortably ahead, with 60 percent of the votes to challenger Tim Wu’s 40. Wu conceded shortly after 10:30 p.m. at the Teachout-Wu party at the at the Hudson Terrace Club on West 46th Street.

Wu’s running mate for governor, Zephyr Teachout, also lost, with 36 percent of the vote to Cuomo’s 60, with 48 percent of precincts reporting. Teachout took to the podium not long after Wu to deliver a graceful concession speech.
Unlike Cuomo, Hochul started the campaign in downstate New York with little name-recognition, which meant the lieutenant governor’s race was anything but decided at the start.

Hochul proved to be especially vulnerable as her track record in office—as clerk in Erie County and U.S. representative in New York’s 26th district, both Republican strongholds—clashed with what was expected of a New York Democrat. 

Media outlets seized on her past opposition of licenses for immigrants who entered the country illegally and her A-rating from the National Rifle Association, pressing her to reiterate her progressive credentials to great lengths throughout the campaign. 

At a Go Out to Vote event in Midtown Manhattan on Monday, Hochul told the story of her working class roots, including working 30-plus hours a week as a teenager at a restaurant to put herself through college. 

“I have scars on my arm from burning it on a 500-degree oven, but these scars pale in comparison with what all of you do,” Hochul told a crowd of unionized hotel workers. 

Hochul’s remonstrances weren’t enough to win over the press. The New York Times endorsed Wu over Hochul, hoping that Wu would bring “a fresh perspective and a new voice to counter Albany’s entrenched players.” The New York Observer also endorsed Wu despite endorsing Cuomo for governor. 

Cuomo’s Sway

But Hochul had the full weight of support from her running mate Cuomo, who has vigorously campaigned on her behalf in the past week. The governor has paid scant attention to his opponent Teachout but has taken repeated swipes at Wu.

“Experience matters. If you’re gonna call a plumber to fix your sink, you want to know that the plumber knows how to handle a wrench,” Cuomo said on Monday, referring to the fact that Tuesday was Wu’s first run for public office. 

Cuomo needs some to fully support him in public and give the image of a unified administration, whereas Wu has practically campaigned on his intent to criticize the governor if they disagree. 

“[If I were Cuomo’s lieutenant governor], I see the relationship as creative tension,” Wu said on Monday. “I propose to reinvent the lieutenant governor position as no longer a lackey and a bystander, but as an advocate for the public.”

Predictably, Cuomo scrambled to bolster Hochul’s chances by calling on his allies, who came out in support of Hochul one by one. 

Tuesday’s results show that the media can hardly buckle the sway of the political machine in Albany. Hochul was endorsed by virtually every prominent New Yorker, including Democrat U.S. reps. Rangel and Nadler, Sen. Gillibrand, and Mayor Bill de Blasio—a testament to Cuomo’s status as a powerbroker. 

Outside of New York, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton even made a robocall urging New Yorkers to vote for Cuomo and Hochul. 

Unless the remaining districts give Wu an improbable victory, Cuomo won’t have to worry about public criticism from his lieutenant governor. 

“Just as you don’t see vice president Biden publicly challenging the president, but gives him his opinion behind closed doors, I’ll perform that role as well,” Hochul said in August.

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