- New York 08/27/2014 by The Editorial Board (The New York Times)
Candidate for Lt. Governor of NY
The office of lieutenant governor in New York is a feeble one. The current occupant — Robert Duffy, a former mayor of Rochester — was handpicked by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2010 and spent the last four years promoting the governor’s agenda around the state. In May, Mr. Duffy decided he had had enough of traveling in the governor’s shadow, and is not seeking re-election.
On Sept. 9, Democratic primary voters can choose between Governor Cuomo’s new choice for lieutenant governor, Kathy Hochul, a former congresswoman, and Timothy Wu, a law professor at Columbia University who is running as an independent-minded Democrat.
Mr. Wu, a political newcomer, offers a fresh perspective and a new voice to counter Albany’s entrenched players. Ms. Hochul does not, and she has a deeply troubling record on health reform, gun control and environmental deregulation. For these reasons, we recommend Mr. Wu in the Democratic primary.
In an editorial on Wednesday, we did not endorse Zephyr Teachout for governor in the Democratic primary, citing her lack of experience. Mr. Wu, who is her running mate, also lacks political experience, but he is seeking a very different job, with far less responsibility for running a big and diverse state.
Mr. Wu recognizes this difference, and he says he wants to use the lieutenant governor’s job as a pulpit, to become the state’s de facto public advocate, particularly in support of consumer issues, Internet access and economic development zones.
Mr. Cuomo chose Ms. Hochul this spring to balance his ticket with a conservative woman from upstate. Ms. Hochul now supports his gun control bill, but when she ran unsuccessfully for re-election to Congress in 2012, her campaign featured the endorsement from the National Rifle Association. The N.R.A. said at the time that she had “a proven record of defending the Second Amendment.”
She also boasted repeatedly that she had voted many times against “Obamacare.” She strongly opposed allowing undocumented immigrants to have drivers’ licenses. And during her short time in Congress, environmentalists criticized many of her votes, including those to repeal emission standards for cement manufacturers and to allow fewer controls on open pit mines and other polluting industries.
She undoubtedly embraced those views to try to win re-election in a district that had become a stronghold for Republicans. But her willingness to shift politically does not suggest she would offer any kind of independent judgment. Nor does her record give any real clue about what would happen if she took over as governor. In the meantime, she has promised to “support the administration.”
Although he lacks time in politics, Mr. Wu has an impressive record in the legal field, particularly in Internet law and policy. Widely known for coining the phrase “net neutrality,” he has been an adviser to the Federal Trade Commission as part of his efforts on behalf of consumers to keep the Internet from “becoming too corporatized.”
As lieutenant governor, he wants to speak out on complicated issues that are too often ignored in Albany like immigrant rights and broadband access needed by more than a million New Yorkers. Those would be worthy pursuits, but he will also have to learn quickly how to navigate Albany’s difficult politics to make his views heard.
Ms. Hochul, who has been a banker in the Buffalo area, has worked to develop jobs upstate. A former county clerk before her stint in Congress, she has helped veterans in her area and supported Mr. Cuomo’s push for economic development in western New York.
Whoever wins in the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor will run as part of the governor’s Democratic ticket in November against the Republican slate. Albany needs an independent voice, someone who can bring fresh ideas to a very stale and often corrupt political culture. Timothy Wu is the one who best fits that bill.