Kathy Hochul

Kathy Hochul
Kathy Hochul, November 2017.jpeg
Hochul in 2017
Lieutenant Governor of New York
Assumed office
January 1, 2015
GovernorAndrew Cuomo
Preceded byRobert Duffy
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 26th district
In office
June 1, 2011 – January 3, 2013
Preceded byChris Lee
Succeeded byChris Collins (redistricting)
8th County Clerk of Erie County
In office
January 1, 2007 – June 1, 2011
DeputyJohn Crangle
Preceded byDavid Swarts
Succeeded byChris Jacobs
Personal details
Kathleen Courtney

(1958-08-27) August 27, 1958 (age 62)
Buffalo, New York, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
(m. 1984)
EducationSyracuse University (BA)
Catholic University (JD)

Kathleen Courtney Hochul (/ˈhkəl/ HOH-kull; born August 27, 1958) is an American politician and lawyer serving as lieutenant governor of New York since 2015. She is to become the 57th governor of New York upon Andrew Cuomo's resignation, scheduled for August 24, 2021, which would make her the first female governor of New York.[1]

Hochul was a lawyer and legislative aide before serving as a member of the Hamburg Town Board from 1994 to 2007. She was the county clerk of Erie County, New York, from 2007 to 2011, and served as its deputy county clerk from 2003 to 2007.

In May 2011, Hochul won the four-candidate special election to fill the seat left vacant by the resignation of Republican Chris Lee,[2][3] becoming the first Democrat to represent New York's 26th congressional district in 40 years. She served as its U.S. representative from 2011 to 2013. Hochul was defeated for reelection to Congress in 2012 by former Erie County Executive Chris Collins after the district's boundaries and demographics were changed in the decennial reapportionment process.

After leaving Congress, Hochul worked as a government relations specialist with Buffalo-based M&T Bank.[4] In 2014, Cuomo selected her as his running mate in the 2014 New York gubernatorial election; after they won the election, Hochul was inaugurated as lieutenant governor of New York. Cuomo and Hochul were reelected in 2018.

Early life and education

Hochul was born Kathleen Courtney in Buffalo, New York, the second of the six children of John P. "Jack" Courtney, then a college student and clerical worker, and Patricia Ann "Pat" (Rochford) Courtney, a homemaker.[5][6] Hochul's family struggled financially during her early years and for a time lived in a trailer near a steel plant.[5] By the time Hochul was in college, however, her father was working for the information technology company he later headed.[5] Her family is Irish Catholic, with roots in Kerry.[7]

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 alumnus running back Ernie Davis.[5][8] She successfully lobbied the university to divest from apartheid South Africa, and in spring 1979, the student newspaper The Daily Orange awarded her an "A", citing the campus changes as evidence for the grade.[8] She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Syracuse University in 1980 and a Juris Doctor from the Catholic University Columbus School of Law in 1984.[5][9]

Early political career

After graduating from law school, Hochul began working for a Washington, D.C. law firm, but found the work unsatisfying.[5] She then worked as a legal counsel and 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.[10][11]

Hochul became involved in local issues as a supporter of small businesses facing competition from Walmart stores.[11] She was elected as the Democratic and Conservative Party candidate to the Hamburg Town Board in November 1994.[12][13] She served on the town board until 2007. While on the board, she led efforts to remove toll booths on parts of the New York State Thruway system.[14][15]

In May 2003, Erie County Clerk David Swarts appointed Hochul as his deputy.[10][12] When Swarts left office in 2007, Governor Eliot Spitzer appointed Hochul to the post.[16] In an intervention that raised her statewide profile, she opposed Spitzer's proposal to allow undocumented immigrants to apply for a driver's license without producing a social security card, and said that if the proposal went into effect she would seek to have any such applicants arrested.[17][18] She was elected later in 2007 to fill the remainder of Swarts's term.[19][20] 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.[11][21]

Following Hochul's departure as county clerk, a backlog of mail was discovered by newly elected County Clerk Chris Jacobs, who later said that $792,571 in checks were found in the backlogged mail.[22] As county clerk, Hochul had been in the process of implementing a new system for handling real estate documents when she left after being elected to Congress. Jacobs said that $9,000 were spent in overtime to deposit checks and file unopened documents that had accumulated in the interim period after Hochul's departure, while the office was adjusting to the new system.[22]

U.S. House of Representatives

2011 special election

Hochul ran in the May 24, 2011, special election 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.[23] Hochul's residence in Hamburg, just outside the 26th district, became an issue during her campaign, though it did not disqualify her from seeking the seat.[24] One month after her victory, she moved into the district.[24][25]

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.[5][26][27] A late April poll had Corwin leading Hochul by 36 percent to 31 percent; Tea Party candidate Jack Davis trailed at 23 percent.[28] An early May poll gave Hochul a lead of 35 percent to 31 percent,[29] and shortly thereafter the nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report called the race a "toss-up".[30] Additional polling in the days immediately before the election had Hochul leading by four- and six-point margins.[31][32]

A Washington Post article noted that in the face of a possible Hochul victory, there was already a "full blown spin war" about the meaning of the result. The article went on to say that Democrats viewed the close race was a result of Republicans' budget proposal The Path to Prosperity, and, in particular, their proposal for Medicare reform. Republicans viewed it as the result of Davis's third-party candidacy.[33]

The campaign featured a number of negative television ads, with nonpartisan FactCheck accusing both sides of "taking liberties with the facts". In particular, FactCheck criticized the Democrats' ads for claiming that the Republican candidate would "essentially end Medicare", even though the plan left Medicare intact for current beneficiaries.[27] The organization also faulted the Republicans for ads portraying Hochul as a puppet of former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and for claiming that Hochul planned to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits.[27]

Campaign funding

Hochul was endorsed by EMILY's List, a political action committee that supports pro-choice Democratic women candidates.[34][35] She was the fifth largest recipient of EMILY's List funds in 2011, receiving more than $27,000 in bundled donations.[35] The Democrat and Chronicle endorsed Hochul "for her tenacity and independence",[36] while The Buffalo News endorsed her for her positions on preserving Medicare and her record of streamlining government.[37]


Hochul defeated Corwin 47 percent to 43 percent, with Davis receiving nine percent, and Green Party candidate Ian Murphy receiving one percent of the vote.[citation needed]

2012 election

In the 2012 election, Hochul's district was renumbered the 27th district. She lost her reelection bid to Chris Collins, 51% to 49%. She was endorsed by the National Rifle Association (NRA).[38]


Hochul during the 112th Congress

In Hochul's first few weeks in office, she co-sponsored bills with Brian Higgins to streamline the passport acquisition process. She also met with President Barack Obama about the economy and job creation and introduced a motion in the House to restore the Republican cuts to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. She looked for ways to reduce the federal budget deficit and expressed support for reducing Medicaid spending as long as the reductions would not be achieved in the form of block grants offered to states, as proposed in the Republican budget blueprint. She also spoke with Obama about ending tax breaks for oil companies and protecting small businesses.[39]

While campaigning for Congress, Hochul defined herself as an "independent Democrat".[11] In an interview with the Lockport Union-Sun & Journal, she cited as examples of her independence her opposition to Spitzer's driver's license program for illegal immigrants and her opposition to Governor David Paterson's 2010 proposal to raise revenue by requiring all vehicle owners to buy new license plates.[11]

Hochul was one of 17 Democrats to join Republicans in supporting a resolution finding U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress relating to the ATF gunwalking scandal, a vote on which the National Rifle Association, which supported the resolution, announced it would be scoring lawmakers.[40] Later in 2012, Hochul "trumpeted" her endorsement by the NRA and noted that she was just one of two New York Democrats to receive the NRA's support.[41]


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."[42]


During her congressional campaign, Hochul favored offering incentives to develop alternative energy.[14]

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".[43]

Fiscal issues

While running for the U.S. House, Hochul supported raising taxes on those making more than $500,000 per year.[14] She opposed new free trade agreements 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.[44]

Hochul called the summer 2011 debt ceiling issue "a distraction" to which the American people should not be subjected.[45][clarification needed]

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. But she expressed opposition to the Republican plan that would turn Medicare into a voucher system, saying it "would end Medicare as we know it".[14][46] She said money could be saved in the Medicare program by eliminating waste and purchasing prescription drugs in bulk.[14] She also said that the creation of more jobs would alleviate Medicare and Social Security budget shortfalls due to increased collections of payroll taxes.[14]

On November 19, 2011, Brian Tumulty of WQRZ reported that Hochul had voted for a balanced budget amendment, which she called "a bipartisan solution".[47]

Health care

Hochul expressed support for the Affordable Care Act passed by the 111th Congress and said during her campaign that she would not vote to repeal it.[14] 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.[48][49] A spokesman later said she had misspoken, but did not clarify her answer.[49]

Social issues

Hochul has said she is pro-choice.[50]

Committee assignments

Lieutenant Governor of New York

Campaign and election

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

In 2014, Robert Duffy announced that he would not run for reelection as lieutenant governor.[51] Incumbent Governor Cuomo was running for a second term. After Duffy's announcement, Cuomo named Hochul as his choice for lieutenant governor.[52] On May 22, 2014, the delegates to the state Democratic convention formally endorsed Hochul for lieutenant governor.[53]

In September, Cuomo and Hochul won their Democratic primary elections.[54] They were also the Working Families Party nominees.[55] (In New York, candidates for governor and lieutenant governor are nominated separately, but run as a ticket in the general election.)[56] In November, the Cuomo/Hochul ticket won the general election.[57] Hochul was sworn in as lieutenant governor on January 1, 2015.[58]

2018 election

In the Democratic primary, Hochul faced Jumaane Williams, deputy leader of the New York City Council.[59] She defeated Williams, 53.3%–46.7%.[60]


Cuomo tasked Hochul with chairing the 10 regional economic development councils that are the centerpiece of the administration's economic development plan.[61] The councils' goal is to build upon the strengths of each region to develop individualized long-term strategic plans.

Cuomo appointed Hochul to chair the Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Abuse and Addiction. In this capacity, she convened eight outreach sessions across New York State to hear from experts and community members in search of answers to the heroin crisis and works to develop a comprehensive strategy for New York.[62]

Hochul spearheaded Cuomo's "Enough is Enough" campaign to combat sexual assault on college campuses beginning in 2015, hosting and attending more than 25 events.[63][64][65] In March 2016, Cuomo named her to the New York State Women's Suffrage 100th Anniversary Commemoration Commission.[66]

In 2018, Hochul supported legislation to provide driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants, which she had opposed as Erie County Clerk in 2007. While Hochul had said in 2007 that she would seek to have any such applicants arrested if the proposal was implemented, in 2018 she said circumstances had changed.[67][68]

As lieutenant governor, Hochul is liaison to New York's federal representatives in Washington, D.C.[69]

Of her time as lieutenant governor and relationship with Cuomo, Hochul said: "I think it’s very clear that the governor and I have not been close, physically or otherwise in terms of much time".[70] Hochul called Cuomo's behavior to women "repulsive and unlawful"[71] and praised his decision to resign.[72]

Governor of New York

In a press briefing on August 10, 2021, Cuomo announced his resignation as governor effective August 24.[73] Accordingly, Hochul would succeed Cuomo as governor of New York on that date. This would make her the state's first female governor,[74] and the first from north of Hyde Park since Nathan L. Miller in 1922.[75] On August 12, Hochul confirmed that she plans to run for a full term as governor in 2022.[76]

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.[44][77] She was also co-founder of the Village Action Coalition, and a member of the Board of Trustees at Immaculata Academy in Hamburg.[44]

Personal life

Hochul is married to William J. Hochul Jr., a former United States attorney for the Western District of New York[78] and the Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary to Delaware North Companies, Incorporated, a hospitality and gambling company. They reside in Buffalo and have two children.[44][78]

Electoral history

Special election May 24, 2011,
U.S. House of Representatives, NY-26[79][80]
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
Total votes 111,597 100.0
Turnout   25
General election November 6, 2012,

U.S. House of Representatives, NY-27

Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Chris Collins 137,250 43.24
Conservative Chris Collins 23,970 7.55
Democratic Kathy Hochul 140,008 44.11
Working Families Kathy Hochul 16,211 5.11
Total Votes 317,439 100.00
Primary election September 9, 2014,

Lieutenant Governor of New York

Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Kathy Hochul 329,089 60.20
Democratic Timothy Wu 217,614 39.80
Total votes 546,703 100.00

See also



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External links

Civic offices
Preceded by
David Swarts
County Clerk of Erie County
Succeeded by
Chris Jacobs
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Chris Lee
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 26th congressional district

Succeeded by
Brian Higgins
Political offices
Preceded by
Robert Duffy
Lieutenant Governor of New York
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Andrew Cuomo
Governor of New York
Taking office August 24, 2021


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