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Convention officially chooses Hochul as Democratic Party's designated nominee for governor

Gov. Kathy Hochul stands with Hillary Clinton at the New York Democratic Convention. (@Kathyhochul/Twitter)
Gov. Kathy Hochul stands with Hillary Clinton at the New York Democratic Convention. (@Kathyhochul/Twitter)

NEW YORK NOW - Gov. Kathy Hochul was chosen as the State Democratic Party’s designated nominee for governor on Thursday, with about 85% of the weighted vote from the party’s delegates.

Another 12% of the weighted vote went to New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, but that wasn’t enough to secure his spot on the ballot for the June primary.

Hochul’s only other serious challenger, Rep. Tom Suozzi from Long Island, didn’t put his name in for the nominating contest. He, and Williams, both plan to gather signatures from registered Democrats to get their way on to the ballot for June.

Polling has placed Hochul in  a firm lead ahead of both Suozzi and Williams.

If she’s successful in June, Hochul will go on to compete against the Republican party’s nominee for governor. Speaking at the convention in New York City, Hochul said she wasn’t concerned about the competition.

“There are those who actually believe Democrats are vulnerable this November,” Hochul said. “I flatly reject that notion right here.”

Hochul’s victory wasn’t a surprise. Heading into the convention, most of the state’s top Democrats had expressed their support for her campaign.

It was the first time the State Democratic Party chose a woman as its preferred nominee for governor. Hochul became the first woman to hold the office after former Gov. Andrew Cuomo resigned last year amid several allegations of sexual harassment.

When she took office, Hochul said she would seek a full term in this year’s elections and immediately won support from top party officials.

Since then, she’s raised more than $21 million in her bid for governor — an historic record of fundraising over a five-month period.

She told Democrats after Thursday’s vote that she wanted to end division in the party, which has seen rifts in recent years between those considered to be further left, and those viewed as closer to the middle of the political spectrum.

“What is the greatest threat to the Republican Party? What is their biggest nightmare?” Hochul said. “A united Democratic party, that’s what they’re worried about.”

At the same time, a handful of protesters interrupted Hochul’s speech at the convention, calling for more relief funds from the state for undocumented immigrants who weren’t able to receive stimulus payments or public assistance during the pandemic.

The state Legislature approved $2 billion for that purpose in last year’s state budget, forming what was known as the Excluded Workers Fund. That money was depleted last year.

Hochul has proposed $2 billion in pandemic recovery initiatives in this year’s state budget, but said she’d work with the Legislature on how that funding would be used.

A final spending plan is due at the end of March.