Kathy Hochul, New York’s new governor following Andrew Cuomo’s resignation, used to have an A+ rating with the National Rifle Association (NRA) as a staunch gun rights advocate. It’s a shocking position to see from a Democratic candidate, but looking into Hochul’s past has shown that the former-lieutenant governor has started to come around to progressive policies in the last few years.
Before joining Cuomo’s ticket as lieutenant governor in 2015, Hochul sat on the U.S. House of Representatives for New York’s 26th district, winning a special election in 2011 to replace Rep. Chris Lee, who also resigned amid scandal. She was able to do so by promising to protect both Medicare for seniors and their right to carry firearms.
Her A+ NRA rating helped her keep the seat from her Republican challenger in 2012, flipping a seat that had been Republican controlled for decades. Hochul’s policies were not necessarily progressive however, and she even referred to herself as an “independent Democrat” on the campaign trail.
“I’m not afraid of telling my own party when they’re wrong, or embracing a Republican idea when it’s right,” she said at the time. “I’m not partisan.”
Though diminishing over the years, Hochul’s district in Buffalo is the hunting capital of New York, and its position for its citizens is what led Hochul to have such a strong NRA rating.
“I had relationships with the second amendment community because they were my constituents,” she said in 2012. “And there’s a lot of people up here who are sportsmen. People like to target practice and I want to make sure they know they have the right to continue those activities.”
“Reasonable gun owners I talk to, the non-extremists on both sides, understand that those are not inconsistent positions,” Hochul continued. “But they really represent the mainstream views of the areas I represented in Congress.”
Hochul was also not a fan of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, and reluctantly voted to not repeal it in 2012 in order to side with her party. “I stood up for the Affordable Care Act, but I also said many times that it needs to be fixed,” she said in a statement following the vote. “House leadership offered no alternative other than to return our country to a broken, unsustainable health care system.”
In Congress, she also fulfilled her campaign promise to protect Medicare, but it was by increasing the penalties for fraud and misuse, not strengthening what it offered seniors or those with disabilities.
It wasn’t until joining Cuomo’s ticket in 2015 that Kathy Hochul’s positions became more progressive, and her website now boasts her fight for multiple gun control measures.
In 2018, she gathered students, parents, and teachers in Queens to demand a vote from the state senate on the “red flag” bill, which would give people in New York the right to petition judges if they believe that a dangerous individual has come under position of a firearm.
“They’re afraid that the NRA will go after them” she said, mentioning a group that had previously given her an A+ rating. “What’s wrong with making sure people who shouldn’t have guns don’t have them?”
Whatever the reason, Hochul’s position on gun control legislation has changed since her time in Congress, and she has even backed the SAFE Act, one of the strictest gun control laws in the nation. The shift was reminiscent of Senator Kristen Gillibrand swaying from a pro-gun, A+ NRA rated candidate to a gun rights advocate in 2009 after winning her seat in the senate.
Swearing in today as New York’s 57th governor, and the first female governor, Kathy Hochul, 62, felt the “weight of responsibility” on her shoulders. According to the NYPD, a recent surge in crime has brought shootings up by 166% compared to the previous year.
Kathy Hochul is facing a mountain of problems in New York, including a push for vaccinations and the economy, which was greatly affected by Covid-19 restrictions, business closures and limited tourism.
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