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Kathy Hochul


Kathy Hochul

Kathy Hochul
Lieutenant Governor of New York
Taking office
January 1, 2015
Governor Andrew Cuomo
Succeeding Robert Duffy
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 26th district
In office
June 1, 2011 – January 3, 2013
Preceded by Chris Lee
Succeeded by Brian Higgins
County Clerk of Erie County, New York
In office
January 1, 2007 – June 1, 2011
Deputy John Crangle
Preceded by David Swarts
Succeeded by Christopher Jacobs
Deputy County Clerk of Erie County, New York
In office
Preceded by Kenneth Kruly
Succeeded by John Crangle
Personal details
Born Kathleen Courtney
(1958-08-27) August 27, 1958
Buffalo, New York
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) William Hochul (m. 1984)[1]
Children Two
Residence Snyder, New York
Alma mater Syracuse University, B.A.
Catholic University, J.D[2]
Religion Catholic[3]
Assets $780,000 – $1.6 million[4]
Boards Kathleen Mary House
Immaculata Academy
Website .gov.househochul

Kathleen Courtney "Kathy" Hochul (pronounced HOKE-ul; born August 27, 1958)[5] is an American politician who is the Lieutenant Governor-elect of the State of New York. She served previously as U.S. Representative for New York's 26th congressional district from June 1, 2011 to January 3, 2013. She prevailed in the four-candidate special election of May 24, 2011, to fill the seat left vacant by the resignation of Republican Chris Lee,[6] and was the first Democrat to represent the district in 40 years.[1]

Hochul served as the County Clerk of Erie County, New York from 2007 until 2011, when she assumed her seat in Congress. Previously, she was a deputy county clerk, a member of the Hamburg town board, a practicing attorney, and a legislative aide.

Hochul was defeated for re-election by Republican former Erie County Executive Chris Collins, after being redistricted to the 27th district. She also worked as a government relations specialist with Buffalo based M&T Bank.[7]

Early life, education, and pre-congressional career

Hochul was born Kathleen Courtney, the second oldest of the six children of John Courtney, then a college student and clerical worker, and Pat Courtney, a homemaker.[1] Hochul's family struggled financially during her early years and for a time lived in a trailer near a steel plant.[1] By the time Hochul was in college, however, her father was working for the information technology company which he later headed.[1]

Hochul became politically active during her college years at Syracuse University, leading a boycott of the student bookstore over high prices and an unsuccessful effort to name the university stadium after running back Ernie Davis, an alumnus, instead of the Carrier Corporation.[1] She received her B.A. degree from Syracuse in 1980 and her law degree from the Columbus School of Law at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. in 1984.[1][2]

After graduating from law school, Hochul began working for a high-powered Washington D.C. law firm, but found the work unsatisfying.[1] She then worked on Capitol Hill as a legal counsel-legislative assistant to U.S. Representative John LaFalce and U.S. Senator Daniel Moynihan, and for the New York State Assembly, before seeking elected office.[8][9]

She became involved in local issues as a booster of small businesses who tried to counteract the effect of Walmart stores.[9] She was elected as the Democratic and Conservative Party candidate to the Hamburg Town Board in November 1994.[10][11] While on the town board, she led efforts to remove toll barriers on parts of the New York State Thruway system.[12][13]

In May 2003, Erie County clerk David Swarts appointed Hochul as his deputy clerk.[8][10] When Swarts left office in 2007, Governor Eliot Spitzer appointed Hochul to fill the post. Though she had been appointed county clerk by Spitzer, she opposed Spitzer's proposal to allow illegal immigrants to apply for a driver's license without producing a social security card.[14] She said that if the proposal went into effect, she would call the sheriff's office to bring such applicants in for questioning.[14] She was elected later in 2007 to fill the remainder of Swarts' term.[15][16] She ran for reelection on four ballot lines: Democratic, Conservative, Independence and Working Families Party, defeating Republican Clifton Bergfeld in November 2010 with 80 percent of the vote.[9][17]

U.S. House of Representatives

2011 special election

Hochul at a press conference with Brian Higgins

Hochul ran in the four-way special election race of May 24, 2011 to fill the seat in New York's 26th congressional district left vacant by the resignation of Republican Chris Lee. She was the Democratic Party and Working Families Party nominee.[18] Hochul's residence in Hamburg, just outside the 26th district, became an issue during her campaign, though it did not legally disqualify her from seeking the seat.[19] One month after her victory, she moved into the district, fulfilling a campaign promise.[19][20]

The Republican and Conservative Party candidate, state legislator Jane Corwin, was at first strongly favored to win in the Republican-leaning district which had sent a Republican to Congress for the previous four decades.[1][21][22] A late April poll had Corwin leading Hochul 36-31 percent; independent Tea Party candidate Jack Davis trailed at 23 percent.[23] An early May poll however, gave Hochul a narrow 35–31 lead,[24] and shortly thereafter the non-partisan Rothenberg Political Report called the race a "toss-up".[25] Additional polling in the days immediately preceding the election had Hochul leading by four and six point margins.[26][27] Additional polling in the days immediately preceding the election had Hochul leading by four- and six-point margins.

In a Washington Post article, it was noted that in the face of a possible upset victory but Hochul, there was already a “full blown spin war” about the meaning of the results. The article went on to say that, for Democrats, the close race was a result of “House Republicans’ budget plan authored by Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan — and, in particular, his proposal to turn Medicare into a voucher program.” For Republicans, it was the result of millionaire Jack Davis, who spent “millions to pull votes away from Republican Jane Corwin.” The article also stated that something being overlooked was that Hochul was “simply a stronger candidate than Republican Jane Corwin.”[28]

Hochul’s strength stemmed from starting her career as an aide to Senator Daniel Moynihan, who was “one of the most admired politicians in New York history.” She has been described as sweet and earnest. She was described as a successful campaigner, but as someone who can do that by “being not the least bit slick.” Hochul was linked to tangible local accomplishments, like when she “broke with then Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D) on license plates for illegal immigrants — and got a write-up in the New York Times for it.”[28]

The seat was viewed as a difficult one to obtain for a Democrat, and “only a really solid campaigner could make it happen.”[28]

Hochul's victory was almost universally viewed as astonishing, given that the district is heavily Republican and that Corwin outspent her almost 2-1.

The campaign featured a number of negative television ads, with nonpartisan Social Security and Medicare benefits.[22]

Campaign funding

Hochul was endorsed by EMILY's List, a political action committee that supports pro-choice Democratic women candidates.[29][30] She was the fifth largest recipient of EMILY's List funds in 2011, receiving more than $27,000 in bundled donations from the organization.[30] The Democrat and Chronicle endorsed Hochul "for her tenacity and independence",[31] while The Buffalo News endorsed her for her positions on preserving Medicare and her record of streamlining government.[32]


Hochul defeated Corwin 47 to 43 percent in the special election held on May 24, with Jack Davis receiving 9 percent, and Green Party candidate Ian Murphy receiving 1 percent of the vote.

On the day of the election, it was reported that Hochul's impending victory would be “a serious blow to the GOP agenda, and, more specifically, Paul Ryan’s budget plan that would end Medicare as we know it.”[33]

It was also noted that when Democratic strategists were not considering Hochul a serious candidate, "It was Emily’s List and the Working Families Party, a union-backed grassroots party, that kept talking up Hochul—who ran on the third party’s ballot line, taking advantage of New York’s fusion law, which allows crossendorsements." Hochul achieved success widely due to her efforts in battling the Republican budget, which aimed to makes cuts to Medicaid and privatize Social Security.[34]

2012 election

In the 2012 election, Hochul's district was renumbered as the 27th District. She lost her re-election bid to Collins by a 51% to 49% margin. She was endorsed by the National Rifle Association, due in part to her affiliation with groups opposed to the SAFE Act [35]


Because her victory came in a special election and because it was an upset win that turned on a major issue, Hochul received major national and even international coverage. She has reportedly already established herself as an important player in Congress.

In Hochul's first few weeks in office, she co-sponsored a couple bills with Brian Cogan to help streamline the passport acquisition process. She also met with the President about the economy and job creation and introduced a motion on the House to restore the Republican cuts to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. She also quickly started looking for areas to reduce the deficit, open to reducing Medicaid spending, as long as it wasn't in the form of block grants offered to states, as proposed in the GOP budget blueprint. She also had spoken with President Obama about ending tax breaks for oil companies and protecting small businesses.[36]

While campaigning for Congress, Hochul defined herself as an "independent Democrat".[9] In an interview with the Lockport Union-Sun & Journal, she cited as examples of her independence her opposition to Spitzer's drivers' license program for illegal immigrants and her opposition to Governor David Paterson's proposal in 2010 to raise revenue by requiring all vehicle owners to buy new license plates.[9]

Kathy Hochul was one of 17 Democrats who joined with Republicans in supporting a resolution finding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress relating to "fast and furious." The NRA announced that it would be scoring lawmakers on their vote.[37] Later in 2012, Hochul "trumpeted" her endorsement from the NRA and noted that she was just one of two New York Democrats to receive the NRA's support.[38]


On September 17, 2011, Robert J. McCarthy noted that Hochul and her election opponent Jack Davis agreed on their opposition to free trade. “We saw what happened with NAFTA; the promises never materialized,” she said of the North American Free Trade Agreement. “If I have to stand up to my own party on this, I'm willing to do so.”[39]


During her congressional campaign, Hochul favored offering incentives to develop alternative energy.[12]

In June 2011, Hochul opposed legislation that would cut funding for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) by 44 percent, on the ground that the CFTC curbs speculation in oil and the resulting layoffs of CFTC personnel would "make it easier for Big Oil companies and speculators to take advantage of ... consumers".[40]

Fiscal issues

While running for the U.S. House, Hochul supported raising taxes on those making more than $500,000 per year.[12] She opposed the new free trade agreements that were then under consideration, saying, "We don't need to look any further than Western New York to see that these policies do not work." She believes that free trade agreements such as NAFTA and CAFTA have suppressed U.S. wages and benefits and caused job loss in the U.S.[41]

Hochul called the summer 2011 debt ceiling issue "a distraction" to which the American people should not be subjected.[42]

Hochul acknowledged during her campaign that substantial cuts must be made in the federal budget, and said she would consider cuts in all entitlement programs. However, she expressed opposition to the Republican plan that would re-form Medicare into a voucher system, saying it "would end Medicare as we know it".[12][43] She said money could be saved in the Medicare program by eliminating waste and purchasing prescription drugs in bulk.[12] She also said that the creation of more jobs would alleviate Medicare and Social Security budget shortfalls due to increased collections of payroll taxes.[12]

On November 19, 2011, Brian Tumulty of WQRZ reported that Hochul had voted for a balanced budget amendment, which she called "a bipartisan solution.[44]

Health care

On September 16, 2011, David Weigel quoted Hochul on lowering Medicare costs: “We need to cut the underlying costs of health care, which are making Medicare more expensive. Democrats are in agreement....We have to make sure that we get equity with respect to prescription drugs – the drug prices under Medicare are obscenely high. Why are veterans at VA hospitals paying less for prescription drugs than people who are under Medicare Part D? That's an area we should go after. Medicare fraud is getting out of control....I think we should have Medicare cover home health care. Look at the savings we'd have if we covered home health care and tele-health services. Instead, people in rural areas have to go hospitals at the dead of the night. If we look at this holistically, we can cut the underlying costs.”[45]

Hochul expressed support for the 2010 health care reform legislation passed by the 111th Congress and said during her campaign that she would not vote to repeal it.[12] In response to a constituent's question during a town-hall meeting in February 2012, she was booed for saying that the federal government was ‘‘not looking to the Constitution’’ under the Obama administration requirement that non-religious employers provide their workers with insurance coverage for birth control.[46][47] A spokesman later stated that she'd misspoken, but did not clarify her answer.[47]

Social issues

Hochul has said she is pro-choice on abortion.[3] She supports civil marriage for same-sex couples, with no requirements on religious institutions.[48]

Committee assignments

Community activities

Hochul is a founder and a member of the Board of Directors of Kathleen Mary House, a transitional home for women and children who are victims of domestic violence.[41][49] She was also co-founder of the Village Action Coalition, and a member of the Board of Trustees at Immaculata Academy in Hamburg.[41]

Personal life

She is married to William Hochul, who serves as the United States Attorney for the Western District of New York.[50] They reside in Snyder, New York,[20] and are the parents of two children, William and Caitlin.[41][50]


On the Constitution

At a town hall meeting in [51]

County Clerk Backlog

Following Kathy Hochul's departure as County Clerk, a back log of mail was discovered by newly elected County Clerk, Chris Jacobs. Millions of dollars were stored in boxes in unopened envelopes.[52] As County Clerk, Kathy Hochul was in the process of implementing a new system, when she left to run in the special election and then to assume office. Thousands of dollars were spent in overtime to deposit checks and file unopened documents. However none of the un-cashed checks dated to Hochul's term as clerk.[53]

Lieutenant governor campaign

Hochul with assembly majority leader Joseph Morelle at the 2014 Labor Day parade in Rochester, New York

Robert Duffy announced in 2014 that he would not be a candidate for reelection as Lieutenant Governor.[54] Andrew Cuomo, the incumbent Governor, was running for a second term. After Duffy's announcement, Cuomo named Hochul as his choice for the Lieutenant Governor nomination.[55] On May 22, 2014 the delegates to the state Democratic convention formally endorsed Hochul for Lieutenant Governor.[56]

In September Cuomo and Hochul won their Democratic primary elections.[57] Cuomo and Hochul were also the nominees of the Working Families Party.[58] (In New York, candidates for Governor and Lieutenant Governor are nominated separately, but run as a ticket in the general election.)[59] In November the Cuomo/Hochul ticket won the general election.[60] Hochul is scheduled to be sworn in as Lieutenant Governor on January 1, 2015.[61]

Electoral history

Special election May 24, 2011,
U.S. House of Representatives, NY-26[62][63]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Kathy Hochul 47,519 42.58%
Working Families Kathy Hochul 5,194 4.65%
Republican Jane Corwin 35,721 32.01%
Conservative Jane Corwin 9,090 8.15%
Independence Jane Corwin 2,376 2.13%
Tea Party Jack Davis 10,029 8.99%
Green Ian Murphy 1,177 1.05%
Totals 111,597 100.0%
Voter turnout 25%


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Hernandez, Raymond (May 29, 2011). "Her Inheritance: An Eagerness to Serve".  
  2. ^ a b McCarthy, Robert J. (December 7, 2010). "Hochul's profile going high, but why?". The Buffalo News. 
  3. ^ a b Robert J. McCarthy (May 20, 2011). "Social issues help clarify House race". The Buffalo News. 
  4. ^ Jerry Zremski (April 30, 2011). "Republican Corwin tops Davis in amassing wealth, Hochul proud of support she has received". The Buffalo News. Retrieved May 20, 2011. 
  5. ^ Nicholas Confessore and Paul Vitello (November 4, 2007). "License Issue Figures Large in Local Races". The New York Times. 
  6. ^ Camia, Catalina (June 1, 2011). "Democrat Kathy Hochul takes her House seat after Medicare fight".  
  7. ^ Kline, Allissa (February 20, 2013). "M&T hires Kathy Hochul". Buffalo Business First ( 
  8. ^ a b "EC Clerk appoints top deputy". Buffalo Business First. May 13, 2003. Retrieved May 19, 2011. 
  9. ^ a b c d e Miles, Joyce (May 20, 2011). "Kathy Hochul defines herself 26th District Special Election". Lockport Union-Sun & Journal. 
  10. ^ a b Staba, David (June 1, 2005). "How Should You Pay a Higher Toll? How About Coin by Coin by Coin?". The New York Times. 
  11. ^ Buffalo News staff reporter (November 9, 1994). "Jann retakes post as Marilla Supervisor" (pay per view). The Buffalo News. Kathleen Courtney-Hochul, the Democratic and Conservative parties candidate, was elected to fill an unexpired term on the Town Board with 57 percent of the vote. 
  12. ^ a b c d e f g Terreri, Jill (May 17, 2011). "Candidates in 26th District differ on more than Medicare". Democrat and Chronicle. 
  13. ^ McCarthy, Robert J. (April 14, 2011). "Davis, Hochul to air new ads". The Buffalo News. 
  14. ^ a b Sharon Osorio (October 15, 2007). "Driver's License Debate Continues". WKBW News 7. Retrieved May 20, 2011. 
  15. ^ Spina, Matthew (November 3, 2010). "Hochul Re-elected County Clerk".  
  16. ^ Spina, Matthew (November 2, 2010). "Hochul re-elected county clerk". The Buffalo News. 
  17. ^ "2010 Designating Petitions Filed". Erie County, NY Board of Elections. Retrieved May 19, 2011. 
  18. ^ Miller, Sean J. (March 19, 2011). "Dems tap Hochul for N.Y. special election".  
  19. ^ a b Hernandez, Raymond (May 24, 2011). "As Contested District Votes, a Candidate Can’t". The Caucus Blogs (The New York Times). 
  20. ^ a b "Rep. Kathy Hochul moves into her district". Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester, New York). July 12, 2011. Retrieved November 19, 2011. 
  21. ^ Rachel Weiner (February 25, 2011). "Why NY-26 (probably) won't be another GOP civil war". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 21, 2011. 
  22. ^ a b c "A Test Market for Spin". Retrieved Oct 12, 2011. 
  23. ^ Rachel Weiner (April 29, 2011). "Poll: A real race in New York special election". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 21, 2011. 
  24. ^ Alex Isenstadt (May 9, 2011). "Dems take fresh aim at N.Y.-26". Politico. Retrieved May 20, 2011. 
  25. ^ "New York 26: Move to Toss-Up/Tilt Democratic". The Rothenberg Report. May 16, 2011. Retrieved May 21, 2011. 
  26. ^ "Siena Poll: Hochul Leads Corwin, 42% to 38% Among Likely Voters". Siena Poll. May 21, 2011. Retrieved May 28, 2011. 
  27. ^ "Hochul leads Corwin by 6". Public Policy Polling. May 22, 2011. Retrieved May 28, 2011. 
  28. ^ a b c AFqVvz9G_blog.html "Is Kathy Hochul just a better candidate?". Washington Post. 
  29. ^ Steve Peoples (April 22, 2011). "EMILY's List Backs Hochul in N.Y. Special". 
  30. ^ a b "EMILY's List". Open Secrets. Center for Responsive Politics. Retrieved November 21, 2011. 
  31. ^ Editorial board (May 14, 2011). "Hochul is best for sprawling 26th Congressional District". Democrat and Chronicle. 
  32. ^ Editorial board (May 15, 2011). "Hochul for Congress".  
  33. ^ Ungar, Rick (May 24, 2011). "Democrat Kathy Hochul Projected Winner In New York 26th Congressional District". Forbes. 
  34. ^ "Kathy Hochul Wins NY-26 as Paul Ryan's Medicare Plan Costs the GOP a House Seat". The Nation. 
  35. ^ "Cuomo adds Hochul to ticket to provide upstate support". Buffalo News. 
  36. ^ "Remember Kathy Hochul?". 
  37. ^ 28, 2012 "Hochul and Owens vote in Fast and Furious Session". Capital New York. June 28, 2012. 
  38. ^ NRA Backs Hochul=October 3, 2012 "NRA Backs Hochul". State of Politics. October 3, 2012. 
  39. ^ "Hochul, in visit with Davis, voices anti-free trade stance". Buffalo News. 
  40. ^ Zremski, Jerry (June 17, 2011). "Hochul sees first legislation defeated". The Buffalo News. Retrieved Oct 8, 2011. 
  41. ^ a b c d "Kathy Courtney Hochul-Biography". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved May 20, 2011. 
  42. ^ "Everybody's Column". The Buffalo News. August 8, 2011. 
  43. ^ "Hochul Urges Congress to Reject Ryan Budget Proposal that Would Decimate Medicare". Project Vote Smart. April 21, 2011. 
  44. ^ "Hochul Splits with Party on Balanced Budget Amendment". WGRZ. 
  45. ^ "Kathy Hochul Spins Me on How Democrats Can Keep the Entitlement Issue". Slate. 
  46. ^ "Hochul under fire for town meeting comments". The Daily News Online. March 1, 2012. 
  47. ^ a b Holmes, Melissa (March 2, 2012). "Hochul Birth Control Controversy Won't Go Away". 
  48. ^ "The candidates on the issues". Buffalo News. May 21, 2011. Retrieved May 6, 2012. 
  49. ^ "The Kathleen Mary House...A place of new beginnings". The Kathleen Mary House. Retrieved May 21, 2011. 
  50. ^ a b Craig, Gary (March 19, 2011). "Democrats choose Kathy Hochul to run in 26th".  
  51. ^ Zremski, Jerry (February 29, 2012). "Hochul under fire in flap on birth control".  
  52. ^
  53. ^
  54. ^ Silverman, Justin Rocket (May 12, 2014). "Robert Duffy will not seek reelection as lieutenant governor, so are you up for it?". New York Daily News. 
  55. ^ Kaplan, Thomas (May 21, 2014). "Cuomo Picks Ex-Congresswoman as Running Mate: Kathy Hochul to Be Democratic Candidate for Lieutenant Governor in New York". New York Times. 
  56. ^ Newberg, Rich (May 22, 2014). "Hochul addresses Democrats at convention". WIVB-TV (Buffalo, New York). 
  57. ^ Kaplan, Thomas (September 9, 2014). "Cuomo Defeats Teachout, Liberal Rival, in the Democratic Primary". New York Times. 
  58. ^ "Working Families Party: Stories Working Families Party urges reluctant members to vote on its line for Cuomo, and Cuomo's new women's political party serves multiple purposes". WRVO Public Media. Retrieved November 25, 2014. 
  59. ^ Martin, Longman (May 29, 2014). "As Goes New York, So Goes the Nation". Washington Monthly. 
  60. ^ "Gov. Cuomo Wins 2nd Term, Becomes 1st Democratic Gov. Since His Father To Win Re-Election In NY". CBS New York. November 4, 2014. 
  61. ^ "2014 General Election Results". National Governors Association. November 15, 2014. 
  62. ^ Robert J. McCarthy (May 26, 2011). "Hochul gains odds-defying victory: Democrat seizes House seat in 26th District with outcome carrying national impact". The Buffalo News. 
  63. ^ Official Election Results from the New York State Board of Elections

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Kenneth Kruly
Deputy County Clerk of Erie County, New York
Succeeded by
John Crangle
Preceded by
David Swarts
County Clerk of Erie County, New York
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Chris Lee
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 26th congressional district

Succeeded by
Chris Collins
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