Election 2022: Hochul campaign releases blitz of ads

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul is officially out with her first TV ads of the campaign season as she gears up for a June primary against Rep. Tom Suozzi of Long Island and New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams. 

Her first ad focuses on her time so far in Albany, showing a dark state Capitol, with a light lit in the governor's office and the slogan "a governor who works as hard as you do."

According to a tracking service called AdImpact, Hochul's campaign has now spent close to $1 million on this round of TV ads, which is only a drop in the bucket compared to the cash she has left on hand. Hochul's campaign set records with its fundraising last fall, reporting more than $21 million in donations at the beginning of the year. 

Political analyst Jack O'Donnell says Hochul is in a great position. 

"She is governor and I think she wants people to know that and know what she's doing as governor," O'Donnell said, referring to Hochul's campaign ad. "I think that's incredibly important."

Yet Hochul is still left without a running mate after her now former Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin resigned last week following his arrest for an alleged campaign finance scheme. The only way for Benjamin's name to be removed from the ballot for the June primary is if he dies, moves out of the state, or is nominated for another office. 

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But a bill, authored by Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, would offer Hochul a loophole. A candidate who has resigned from the office they are seeking, is indicted for a crime, or has a life-threatening illness would be able to withdraw their name from the ballot. The bill has yet to be introduced but Hochul has already signaled her support for it in an interview on Monday with WAMC radio host Alan Chartock. 

"So what I'm going to do is take a look at whatever passes the Legislature," she told Chartock. "This is obviously talked about and initiated by legislators, it's their responsibility if they choose to go down that path."

Because the governor and lieutenant governor run in separate primaries, Suozzi said Hochul should now let voters decide.

"She doesn't have the ethical standing to appoint a new lieutenant governor and she simply can't be trusted," Suozzi said. 

Hochul so far has given few hints on what her next move might be, saying she is considering all options, including appointing someone to fill the position for just the next seven months. In the interview on WAMC, Hochul said, "a lot of people have expressed interest" in the job. O'Donnell said he thinks Hochul should appoint someone in the interim and let the rest sort itself out in the primary. 

"Someone who brings some other experience with some of the issues helps highlight the work she's already doing, to help her govern and let the campaign take care of itself," O'Donnell said. 

Although Hochul is ahead in polling, fundraising and more, this issue with the lieutenant governor shouldn't be overlooked. New York lost two lieutenant governors in just the last eight months (one became governor and the other resigned). Also, Tuesday was the first time Hochul took questions from reporters in almost a week.

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