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Politics and Government

Hochul faces opportunities, challenges from both sides of the aisle

Kathy Hochul.jpg
Tom Magnarelli
Kathy Hochul with Assemblywoman Pamela Hunter in Syracuse in 2020.

Democratic and Republican elected officials are keeping an open mind and welcoming Kathy Hochul, the next governor, as a fresh start. Hochul faces some challenges and opportunities from the two parties in her new role.

Grant Reeher, the director of the Campbell Public Affairs Institute and a professor of political science at Syracuse University, said Hochul will start with an enormous amount of goodwill, but it may not last long. Progressives and those on the left, he said, will look at this as an opportunity to push their agenda.

“She will not come in with the same level of aggressiveness that Andrew Cuomo had,” Reeher said. “She won’t have all of the different bases of power that he had and the ability to manipulate them.”

Reeher said Cuomo embodied himself as a progressive, but at the same time, was a backstop to some of most liberal ideas, like single-payer health care. Hochul, he said, was known as a more moderate Democrat. If Hohcul continues along that path, Reeher said she may push back, even more so than Cuomo, against some of the Democrats' more progressive proposals.

“That may be the way she wants to make her mark; to maybe try to reestablish a more favorable climate for businesses and corporations to operate in the state,” Reeher said. “Maybe, to try to tweak the tax code in a way that is less unfavorable to higher earners.”

Reeher said there’s also uncertainty on the Republican side. As they look to the governor’s race next year, Cuomo, which Reeher called the GOP’s biggest foe, is off the playing field. But working with the more moderate Hochul and giving her some political wins could be risky.

“You may be contributing to making it less likely that someone from your party can win the governor’s office,” he said. “That’s the big prize that they would love to have.”