She was defeated six years ago by the man now holding her former seat in the House of Representatives. Earlier this year, Governor Andrew Cuomo suggested she'd be an ideal candidate to challenge Chris Collins this November. But Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, during an appearance in Buffalo, says she's better serving people in her current role.
Hochul faced questions about Collins, who was indicted earlier this week on insider trading allegations, including whether she regrets not jumping into a race for the Clarence Republican's seat.
It was a move her own boss, Governor Cuomo, suggested during a visit to Buffalo last spring while announcing economic development plans. Hochul, on Friday, said she is better serving people in her current role.
"Serving as lieutenant governor has given me a great deal of latitude in being able to represent the entire state and work on issues where you actually get things done," she said. "Great accomplishments like raising the minimum wage, putting forward a plan for free college tuition. I loved my time in Congress but I can have a much greater impact, statewide, to help the people of my former district and even the entire state as lieutenant governor."
Hochul served briefly in Congress, winning a special election in 2011 to fill the 26th District seat after its previous holder, Chris Lee, resigned. Shortly after, redistricting placed Hochul in a 2012 re-election bid but for the 27th District, which she lost to Collins by a 51-49 margin.
The suggestions earlier this year that Hochul would be a stronger candidate than current Democratic challenger Nathan McMurray irritated the latter, who vowed to remain in the race despite what he saw as party insiders not wanting him to run. Hochul, though, expressed her support for McMurray Friday.
"I was with Nate McMurray just this past Saturday before all this unfolded," said Hochul, referring to Collins' arrest and arraignment the following Wednesday. "We are committed to making sure that he is successful. I believe he will be, based on the Democratic values he espouses, fightning for working men and women, for the farms in these areas. I know this district better than anyone and Nate McMurray will be an incredible representative."
As for Collins, Hochul said she was heartbroken to see a leader who, in her words, put his own financial interests ahead of those of his constituents. When asked if he should resign, he replied that the decision is up to Collins.
The next question she faced is whether Collins could still serve his district as he needs to while in the shadow of a pending federal case against him.
"I don't know that he's properly served his district for the last six years," she replied. "I don't know what's different today."