New York Governor Kathy Hochul says she feels a ‘special calling’ to protect Jews – The Forward
New York Governor Kathy Hochul owns a business drive iIn the weeks leading up to the June 28 Democratic primary, and raised a good sum — more … than $10 million — since January. On Sunday, she received the coveted endorsement from The New York Times.
But she is right to be anxious.
His popularity plummeted in recent months, she has given a poor performance in the first Democratic debate, and she is expected to face a more competitive race against a Republican in the fall, with high inflation and crime being top concerns for voters.
She is eager, then, that her reputation as a consensus-builder with a deep empathy for the Jewish community will earn her the support of the state’s 1.8 million Jews – estimated to be about 16% of the electorate – in her reelection offer.
Holding a plastic water glass in the backyard of a local cafe in Brooklyn, Hochul leaned over and said, “The whole spectrum of anti-Semitism, I never had to put up with that. But it hurts me as a human being to know that there is someone out there who is vulnerable because of their own faith, upbringing and way of life.
Hochul, 63, who became the state’s first female governor after Andrew Cuomo resigned last August, had just wrapped up a series of meetings with Hasidic leaders in Williamsburg, where she said she discussed the increase in violent anti-Semitic attacks against Jews, especially against the most visible Orthodox population.
Hochul has already been approved by Jewish religious leaders and Orthodox voting blocks and should win the support of competing Hasidic Satmar sects, who first approved it in the 2014 primary for lieutenant governor but who have traditionally split their endorsements in local races as a result of a 2006 secession row.
Over the past eight years, Hochul has fostered a working relationship with Jewish community leaders and denounced the rise of anti-Semitism. she visited jewish day schools and synagogues and regularly visited the Orthodox neighborhoods across the state.
In his first budget, passed in April, Hochul amended the state’s controversial bail reform law to include tougher measures against hate crimes. in response to a spike in violent anti-Semitic attacks. The budget provided increased funding for non-public school safety and for STEM grants. It also increased funding for a program to helping Holocaust survivors of $2.6 million. Last year, Hochul vetoed a conservation bill this would have thwarted housing development for the growing Hasidic community in upstate New York.
A deep affinity for Jews
In the interview, Hochul said his commitment to fighting anti-Jewish attacks and his empathy for Jews, the Orthodox community in particular, stemmed from an understanding that “they need more allies, they have need people in government to watch over them. ”
She said she first encountered Jewish people while a student at Syracuse University. Hochul served as vice president of student government and, along with Jordan Dale, student body president who is Jewish, pushed for the school to divest South African investments in protest against apartheid. “I was in college and worked hard to help many student causes at the time with my Jewish friends,” Hochul recalled. “So I learned from them.”
Hochul said she felt “a special calling” and a “moral responsibility” to fight anti-Semitic attacks. She pointed to the fatal Buffalo shooting and the 2017 neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville as evidence that Jews, blacks and immigrants are all vulnerable to attack. Hochul noted that she recently created the first-ever domestic counterterrorism unit within the state police focused on social media monitoring “so that we can be in a better position to identify threats and not just send our hearts, prayers and thoughts to everyone when this happens.” .”
She said she told police and law enforcement officials at a meeting she called last month: “I don’t want to be in the ‘crime solving’ business, I want to be in the field of “prevention”.
The elusive family trip to Israel
Before becoming New York’s 57th governor, following Cuomo’s resignation over alleged sexual misconduct, Hochul, as lieutenant governor, had planned a first trip with his family to Israel for Thanksgiving weekend 2021. Her father John P. Courtney, who is an Irish Catholic, had visited Israel and shared with her the spiritual experiences he had had there. “The foundation of Christian teaching goes back to Israel,” she said. “Jesus was Jewish, and so there is this attraction for people of all religions to go to Israel.”
But to the disappointment of her husband, adult children and their spouses, she said, she had to cancel the trip to fulfill her new responsibilities as governor.
Hochul said that after surprisingly winning the special congressional election in 2011, she told her Jewish supporters that she would be traveling to Israel for an official visit after the 2012 general election. But due to the redistricting, she lost and returned to the private sector as a government relations manager for M&T Ban, based in Buffalok.
In 2014, she was chosen as Cuomo’s running mate, but did not join him on any of the three trips he made to the Jewish state as governor.
She initially rescheduled the family trip to Israel for Thanksgiving 2020, but when COVID-19 hit, she was the first to continue rescheduling it, most recently in November 2021.
Hochul said she would visit Israel on an official business mission in the coming year if “God willing and the voters willing” she is reelected to a full four-term term. year. “We will do it in an official and wonderful way where I will meet heads of state and bring a delegation of people for trade and cultural exchange,” she said. “I will be delighted to finally be able to go to a place that has attracted me for a long time.”
Long way to go
Despite Hochul’s strong standing among Jews and the Democratic electorate, his approval rating has dropped in recent months to 44%. In New York, a strong Democratic stronghold, its approval is 35% and 46% say the state is going in the wrong direction.
New York conservatives hope to exploit those vulnerabilities and capitalize on the advantage Republicans often enjoy when crime and the economy are front and center in voters’ minds. It’s been less than a month since a gunman killed 10 black people in a supermarket in his hometown of Buffalo.
If a Republican candidate wins, the party will win its first statewide election since 2002.
Long Island Jewish Congressman Lee Zeldin is backed by the Republican establishment but faces a competitive primary against three opponents. Among them is Andrew Giuliani, the son of former mayor Rudy Giuliani and former White House aide to former President Donald Trump. Internal polls suggest a close race between Zeldin and Giuliani. And Zeldin was criticized for voting against certification of the 2020 election results which showed President Joe Biden had now won Arizona and Pennsylvania.
Hochul’s support from Orthodox voting blocs in the primary could help him win the GOP nominee’s backing from Orthodox voters who traditionally vote Republican in state and national elections.
A recent Zogby poll showed Hochul with an 18-point lead – 54-36% – in a hypothetical head-to-head with Zeldin.
“Being the first female governor puts a certain weight on my shoulders,” Hochul said of her job. “But I never thought it would be a challenge for me personally because I had many life experiences that ensured I had the depth of strength to rule, but also with heart and compassion. ”